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Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was born on this date in 1917. She was a Black poet and author.
Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, and graduated from Wilson Junior College in 1936. Critics praised her first book of poems, A Street in Bronzeville (1945), as a moving evocation of life in an urban Black neighborhood. In 1949, Brooks wrote Annie Allen and was awarded the 1950 Pulitzer Prize in poetry.
She wrote some selections for readers of all ages. These include Maude Martha (1953), The Bean Eaters (1960), In the Mecca (1968), Riot (1969), Jump Bad (edited): A New Chicago Anthology (1971), Report from Part One: An Autobiography (1972), To Disembark (1981), The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems (1986), Blacks (1987), and Children Coming Home (1991).
Brooks was noted for her adaptation of traditional forms of poetry and her use of short verse lines and casual rhymes. Brooks was named poet laureate for the state of Illinois in 1968, succeeding Carl Sandburg. In 1985 she was appointed poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. In 1990, Brooks became the first American to receive the Society for Literature Award from the University of Thessalonica in Athens, Greece.
She received the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 1994. Gwen Brooks, the first Black poet to receive a Pulitzer Prize in poetry, died on December 4, 2000.
Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York