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4.35  ·  Rating Details ·  247 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Here is a necessary collection of poetry for admirers of words and treasurers of literary beauty. Spanning more than 30 years, this collection of literary masterpieces by the venerable Ms. Gwendolyn Brooks, arguably Illinois' most beloved Poet Laureate and Chicago's elder black literary stateswoman, Blacks includes all of Ms. Brooks' critically acclaimed writings. Within i ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published January 1st 1994 by Third World Press (first published 1987)
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Mar 06, 2013 Didi rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Poetry lovers and those who love reading African-American Women Writers
This is a phenomenal collection of poetry spanning about thirty years of Gwendolyn Brooks's writing. It even includes the short novel Maud Martha and Annie Allen, the collection of poetry that she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950. Brooks was genius with the words - lyrical, meaningful, and cultural she put the emphasis just where it should be. I definitely think this is a must read and addition to those who love and collect Brooks's work. For those that are discovering Brooks and Poetry ...more
Apr 01, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing
This tome's got pretty much everything GB wrote except, unfortunately (or fortunately? some of the later stuff isn't so great), all the later stuff she published with black presses after she left Harper Collins. It's even got the novel, Maud Martha, she published back in the day, which is average as a novel though fascinating if you really like Gwendolyn Brooks. Which I do. Read it and be in awe of a woman who could live life in Jim Crow Chicago, write life in Jim Crow Chicago, and continually e ...more
Mar 01, 2009 Michael rated it liked it
I dig Gwendolyn Brooks. I really do. I like the book cover. I like the title. But she's hit or miss with me. Half the poems I dig, I dig until I've hit in the middle of the earth. The others are not over my head (doesn't mean I get them), because being over my head means I still have some emotional reaction. I'm just cold. There's no reaction. So overall, buy it for the prose and half the poetry, because getting 50% dope poems is still better than 100% wack ones.
Feb 14, 2017 P rated it really liked it
I really really enjoyed the surprise that was maud martha in the middle! (No spoilers)

Glen Engel-Cox
Dec 01, 2014 Glen Engel-Cox rated it it was ok
A collection of poetry by Brooks, probably the most honored African- American poet. It also includes "Maud Martha," Brooks' single novel to date. I liked the novel, but felt it was a little too much for me. I like poetry, but I think I like it in small doses, where I can relax and read and reread it without concentrating on how much time it is taking me to do so. Her fiction is like poetry, in the sense that it had as much to do with the vision of things as it did with the characterization or th ...more
Jul 01, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it
An uneven collection. When she is good, she is very very good, but it is an unfortunate decision (by someone) to throw so much of Brooks' work into a single book willy-nilly. Again, I am frustrated by the ubiquitous practice of publishing poems without their dates and in no particular sequence! When they are tumbled into a single collection, even the publication date is lost as a crude indicator. Books are dated, paintings are dated, why not individual poems? I would love to have a sense of cont ...more
Jun 27, 2007 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel, poetry
I love her poem "Song in the Front Yard" so I picked up this book. It is a good thick collection of some of her best poetry and Ms. Brooks excellent novel Maud Martha. I had read selections from Maud Martha in classes over the year, but never the whole novel. Maud Martha is honest and aware. She makes hard choices and sticks to them through the consequences. She is a realist and a bit self-effacing. There are babies born and talk of war and daily disappointments of lost jobs and family squabbles ...more
Jul 18, 2015 Carol rated it liked it
A through investigation to Gwendolyn Brooks who I had read only slightly before. Clearly she honed her skills as she continued and I enjoyed the later poems. But the wonderful moment of this book, for me, was reading Maud Martha. She says it is fiction but I felt like I was living in the character's skins. It is also poetry that is a pleasure to read.
Claire S
First section of my daughter's English class is all about Gwendolyn. Can't wait to read her finally (separately from my daughter of course, I just am re-doing my high school learning experience now, with her much-better curriculum. We sometimes chat for a second or two about this or that, but basically I read her assigned works for thoroughly selfish reasons.
thanks greggy! quite excellent so far (still just poetry hopping, i'll keep you posted on the novel-reading such as it may be...)
Jun 03, 2007 Eve rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: city people; poetry people; black people; people people
The most comprehensive collection of work from the most humble of amazing poets, the most plain of beautiful poets.
Jul 23, 2008 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This book was a gift, and I ended up enjoying a lot of Brooks' lesser known poems. But my favorites remain -- Sadie and Maud; The Bean Eaters; and We Real Cool.
May 27, 2007 Brandon rated it it was amazing
The only poem I read was "Gay Chaps at the Bar." I remember Brooks as a careful and insightful poet. The gay chaps spoke with "athletic language."
Oct 29, 2008 Tori rated it really liked it
A phenomenol poet who captured African American life with beauty and dignity. A must for poetry lovers.
Mar 07, 2016 Jimbo rated it really liked it
I had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Brooks read. Poetry is meant to be heard, especially when the voice is as magnificent as hers was...A voice for the ages...Like a female James Earl Jones...
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Although she was born on 7 June 1917 in Topeka, Kansas--the first child of David and Keziah Brooks--Gwendolyn Brooks is "a Chicagoan." The family moved to Chicago shortly after her birth, and despite her extensive travels and periods in some of the major universities of the country, she has remained associated with the city's South Side. What her strong family unit lacked in material wealth was ma ...more
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And if sun comes
How shall we greet him?
Shall we not dread him,
Shall we not fear him
After so lengthy a
Session with shade?

Though we have wept for him,
Though we have prayed
All through the night-years—
What if we wake one shimmering morning to
Hear the fierce hammering
Of his firm knuckles
Hard on the door?

Shall we not shudder?—
Shall we not flee
Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter
Of the familiar
Propitious haze?

Sweet is it, sweet is it
To sleep in the coolness
Of snug unawareness.

The dark hangs heavily
Over the eyes.”
More quotes…