Brooks' first published poetry, "Eventide," appeared in American Childhood when she was 13 years old; by the age of 17, she was routinely writing poems in the Chicago Defender, a newspaper that served Chicago's African American community. In 1939, at the age of 21, Brooks won a $10,000 prize from the Poetry Society of America for her collection of poems titled Life Studies. The book received critical acclaim and is considered one of the defining books of the modern black poet.
Brooks died in an automobile accident in 1955 at the age of 36. She is now regarded as one of the leading poets of the Harlem Renaissance.
Brooks was a poet laureate consultant on poetry for the Library of Congress from 1985 to 1986, and she got a lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1989. In 1990, she was hired as an English professor at Chicago State University, a job she kept until her death. She is also known for writing about race and racism in American literature.
Brooks published seven collections of poems during her lifetime, most recently A Street in Bronzeville (2013). Her work has been widely praised by critics and she received many awards throughout her career including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1979. She was also nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three times but never won it.
You may not know that Brooks wrote poetry, but she certainly knew how to write a poem. Each one of her books contains more than 50 poems so they can't all be great poems, but some are really good and others not so much. She had a unique style that's influenced many poets since then. For example, Rita Dove, who is another poet laureate, has been called "the modern-day Gwendolyn Brooks" because they both use language differently from most other poets. They both like to use colloquial words and phrases too but they also like to mix it up with formal language now and again for effect.
Alcott wrote her first piece, a poem, in 1851, but she did not achieve fame until the 1860s. Here are some of her most popular poems, which were released following the popularity of Little Women. The first line is followed by the last word of each verse.
Louisa May Alcott's Poems
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
A little stream with water clear as glass,
And white and yellow stones by its side;
But no sound there is to hear nor sight to see,
Unless it be my own voice which I must try.
I love a valley green and silent too,
A hillside thickly covered with flowering thorn,
The breeze through the pine trees loud and long,
The sun shining bright on everything.
O, I could sit and watch my heart grow strong,
It feels so good to me alone like this!
The USPS released a Gwendolyn Brooks commemorative postage stamp in 2012. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (June 7, 1917–December 3, 2000) was a poet, author, and teacher from the United States. Her writing frequently dealt with the genuine joys and sorrows of regular people in her society. She also expressed concern about racial injustice.
Brooks's work was influential in the development of Black American poetry. She taught at Howard University for several years and had an impact on a new generation of poets who were involved with the Black Arts Movement. She also wrote essays on African-American history and culture which are considered classics in their fields.
In addition to teaching, Brooks published three books of poems during her lifetime. The first collection, We Wear the Mask, was published when she was only twenty-one years old. It included many poems that would later appear in her other volumes. Her second book, Life To Don't Worry He'll Run The World, was awarded the Yale Younger Poets Prize. This book showed how deeply ingrained racism was in American society through Brooks' eyes. The third and most famous volume is An Army of One, which was nominated for the National Book Award. This book contains poems that speak directly to the issues that concerned Brooks throughout her life - racism, war, poverty, and beauty.
In 1962, Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She was only thirty years old.