Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African-American person to win a Pulitzer Prize for Literature. She wrote many poems about being black during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Her poems were so vivid. She would write about struggling black people both men and women in a way that would capture the reader. It was in college that I learned of Gwendolyn Brooks and her brilliance when I read “The Mother”.
Her first poetry anthology, “A Street in Bronzeville”, gained the attention of literary experts in 1945. She was praised for both her poetic skill and her powerful descriptions about the black experience during the time. The Bronzeville poems were her first published collection. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. She was the first black to do so. But, it didn’t stop there because 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. Awesome right?
One of my favorite poems by Ms. Brooks is “The Mother”. I read this in college and cried. This poem is so gut wrenching that I knew at that moment that I wanted to write. To put on paper all the emotions and observations of the world I live in. Gwendolyn Brooks, like Maya Angelou, helped give me my voice and for that I am thankful.
The Mother – by Gwendolyn Brooks
Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.
I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children.
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches, and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?—
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.
Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you