Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) was the first African American poet to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and she is most recognized for her powerful literary portrayals of urban African Americans. Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, on June 7, 1917. She graduated from high school at age sixteen and attended Howard University for two years before dropping out to work and raise a family. In 1941, at the age of twenty-one, Brooks published her first collection of poems, Ann Arbor: My Own Town. The book received critical acclaim and made Brooks an overnight sensation among readers interested in poetry. Over the next few years, Brooks would go on to publish seven more poetry collections, all but one of which were awarded the National Book Award.
Brooks's works deal primarily with issues concerning race and identity. Her poems are often set in Detroit or Chicago, where she grew up, and they document the struggles and pleasures of life for people of color in these cities. Many of her poems feature young women, either as individual characters or as part of a group, and their experiences offer a unique perspective on racism within the black community as well as outside it. For example, in "A Street in Bronzeville" (1966), a young woman confronts racial prejudice while trying to find a job in a white neighborhood; in doing so, she comes into contact with other blacks who have been refused employment because of their skin color.
Gwendolyn Brooks was a postwar poet most recognized for becoming the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize for her novel Annie Allen, published in 1949. She also received awards from several other organizations and prizes for poetry from such journals as The Nation and Poetry. Brooks died of cancer at the age of 44.
Brooks's work reflected the social concerns of her time, including racism, poverty, and violence against women. She also explored female sexuality and spirituality with honesty and passion. Her poems are often characterized by their use of imagery and metaphor, as well as their rhythmic language and sensuous tone.
Brooks began writing poetry at an early age. She received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Chicago Literary Institute, where she studied with renowned poets Carl Sandburg and James Weldon Johnson. It was there that she met her husband, Edward Brooke (a lawyer who would later become an elected U.S. Senator), who encouraged her to continue writing.
After marrying Edward Brooke, Gwendolyn Brooks moved to Harlem, New York, so he could practice law. Here, she became involved in the black freedom movement and joined other activists in a sit-in at a whites-only restaurant.
Brooks is well remembered for becoming the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize in any category, when she won the Prize for Poetry for her book Annie Allen in 1950. She also is noted for writing poems that challenge stereotypes about women and black people as well as racism in America.
In addition to being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957, Brooks is also included in the National Women's Hall of Fame and the Black Women's History Museum. Many institutions around the world are named after her including a school in Brooklyn, New York, and a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank. Her image appears on a United States postage stamp.
Brooks grew up in Baltimore City where she lived with her mother, father, and three sisters. Her parents were not educated, but they tried hard to make sure that their children got an excellent education. They sent all of them to private schools until Gwendolyn reached high school age, when they decided it was too expensive so then she went to public school. However, she received many academic awards while in high school.
After graduating from high school, Brooks went to Howard University where she studied literature and psychology for two years before dropping out to focus on her writing career.
Cancer took his life. 4th of December, 2000— Gwendolyn Brooks, who became the first African-American to receive a Pulitzer Prize for her frank, compassionate poetry and fostered awareness of black culture, died of cancer. She was 83 years old.
Brooks was born on 18th August, 1918 in New York City. Her mother died when she was only nine years old and she was brought up by her father who worked as an accountant. He died when she was 20 years old. She graduated from Howard University with a degree in English in 1939 and began writing poems which were published in newspapers and magazines. In 1941, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship which allowed her to travel abroad and study literature and history of art.
In 1945, Brooks married lawyer John S. Wilson who died four years later. They had one son together. After her husband's death, she moved back home with her son to take care of her aging parents. This period of her life is documented in her book Home To Harlem which was published in 1952. It describes her childhood experiences and how they affected her personality.
In 1959, Brooks won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for her first collection of poems For My Children. The title poem from this collection tells the story of a boy who rejects his white family and friends to stay with his black relatives after his father has been killed by police.