When: Saturday, April 1, 2017, 10:00 AM–1:00 PM.
Where: Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street. Free admission. Please note the Poetry Foundation will be open only to youth 13 and under and their caregivers during this event.
Happy Birthday Miss Brooks! Celebrate National Poetry Month and the 100th birthday year of Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks.
- A live reading of the legendary author’s poetry by WBEZ’s Natalie Moore.
- A special dance performance by The Joffrey Ballet’s Community Engagement students illuminating Brooks’ work.
- Animated poems created especially for the Poetry Foundation by Motionpoems, an independent animation studio that brings poetry to life through film.
- A scavenger hunt, craft-making, poetry writing, and other interactive fun in collaboration with the DuSable Museum of African American History.
- Gwendolyn Brooks was the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize.
- She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois.
- Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period.
- Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, but her family moved to Chicago when she was young.
- Her father was a janitor who had hoped to become a doctor.
- Her mother was a schoolteacher and classically trained pianist.
- Brooks was 13 when her first published poem, “Eventide,” appeared in American Childhood; by the time she was 17 she was publishing poems frequently in the Chicago Defender, a newspaper serving Chicago’s black population.
- Her first published in her first collection, A Street in Bronzeville.
- In the 1950s Brooks published her first and only novel, Maud Martha, which details a black woman’s life in short vignettes.
- Brooks’s later work took a far more political stance.
- Brooks’s activism and her interest in nurturing black literature led her to leave major publisher Harper & Row in favor of fledgling black publishing companies.
- Visits to local schools, colleges, universities, prisons, hospitals, and drug rehabilitation centers characterized her tenure as poet laureate of Illinois.
- She resided at 7428 S. Evans Ave., Chicago from 1954-1994.
About the Poetry Foundation
Years ago an Eli Lily heir left $100m to the Poetry Foundation which explains their fancy building over on Superior. Any group with that kind of dough should have some free and interesting things to do. Ongoing events include poetry readings, including by Joyce Carol Oates, children’s events and exhibit openings. Selected events below. Full calendar here.