Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks Poems

Gwendolyn Brooks was a highly influential poet and the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She was also one of the most widely-read poets of the 20th century, penning poems like the mother,’ ‘We Real Cool,’ and The Bean Eaters.’ She wrote more than 20 books of poetry during her lifetime. She passed away in 2000. Read more about Gwendolyn Brooks.


by Gwendolyn Brooks

‘Riot’ by Gwendolyn Brooks is a poem that illustrates the dissonance that exists between the privileged and those who are driven to desperation to riot.

This powerful poem by Gwendolyn Brooks serves as her perception of a moment of immense turmoil. Written after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., it provides a visceral look at the racist indifference that sits at the heart of the many ways Black Americans have been oppressed and vilified. It takes on the voice and point of view of a racist man of privilege and should be considered one of her best poems.

John Cabot, out of Wilma, once a Wycliffe,

all whitebluerose below his golden hair,

wrapped richly in right linen and right wool,

almost forgot his Jaguar and Lake Bluff;

Primer for Blacks

by Gwendolyn Brooks

‘Primer For Blacks’ by Gwendolyn Brooks speaks on the necessity of accepting one’s black heritage and a possible unified future for all black people.

This piece is considered a significant and powerful poem in the body of Gwendolyn Brooks' work. It speaks to the experiences and struggles of Black people in America and celebrates their resilience and bravery in the face of oppression.


is a title,

is a preoccupation,

is a commitment Blacks

The Blackstone Rangers

by Gwendolyn Brooks

‘The Blackstone Rangers’ by Gwendolyn Brooks is a stunning poem that plunges earnestly into the daily life of the group in order to uncover some truth about its purpose and necessity.

This poem by Gwendolyn Brooks ranks amongst some of the poet's most incisive and visceral works; it is one that is representative of her ability to capture all the complexity that goes into creating a truthful portrait of Black experiences. The poem is uncompromising in its portrayal of the Blackstone Rangers, and this makes for a heart-rendering experience for the reader as well.

There they are.

Thirty at the corner.

Black, raw, ready.

Sores in the city

The Lovers of the Poor

by Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks’ scathing critique exposes Ladies’ insincere charity, highlighting social inequality and privilege.

This poem is a good representative of Gwendolyn Brooks' poetry. It exhibits several characteristics commonly found in her work, such as a keen focus on social issues, a critical examination of societal inequality, and the use of powerful imagery and language to convey her message. Brooks was known for her ability to critique societal norms and expose the struggles of marginalized communities, and this poem exemplifies those themes in a skillful and impactful manner.

arrive. The Ladies from the Ladies’ Betterment League

Arrive in the afternoon, the late light slanting

In diluted gold bars across the boulevard brag

Explore more poems from Gwendolyn Brooks

the sonnet-ballad

by Gwendolyn Brooks

‘the sonnet-ballad’ appears in the poetry collection “Annie Allen” by Gwendolyn Brooks. This poem centers on the theme of horror and the pity of war.

To a Dark Girl

by Gwendolyn Brooks

‘To a Dark Girl’ by Gwendolyn Bennett is a moving and inspiring poem that seeks to uplift Black girls and women and remind them of their beauty and strength. 

We Real Cool

by Gwendolyn Brooks

‘We Real Cool’ by Gwendolyn Brooks describes the lives of seven pool players who lurk in the night, don’t go to school and plan on dying soon.