Hello there dear readers, for this post, I will introduce you, through using metaphors, to one of my favorite, and a truly inspiring poet, Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), who was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. As part of a research project, I have been studying the life and works of Gwendolyn Brooks and I hope that through these metaphors, you will gain a brief understanding of what Brooks was like.
1. Plant: Passion plant (Passiflora)– A passion plant is an evergreen climber with exotic looking flowers that are vibrant in color. Similarly, Gwendolyn Brooks had always been energetic and passionate about writing and her interest in poetry began at an early age. By the age of thirteen she published her first poem in the magazine American Childhood and by the age of sixteen she had published over seventy poems.
2. Article of Clothing: 3D Glasses Whether Brooks was celebrating the bittersweet dignity of the impoverished or commemorating the youth in her neighborhood who embraced gang life as a means of survival, her purpose in her poems was to encourage critical thinking and expose readers to different perspectives just as 3D glasses expose viewers to see films from a different dimension. Through her poems, she shows us the major historical landmarks of the twentieth century through the 3-D lens of the lives of ordinary people, often ones the American mainstream would dismiss.
3. Day of the Week: Sunday- “One wants a Teller in a time like this”- Gwendolyn Brooks. A mother, preacher, prophet, and journalist were all ways of specifying the role of Teller. These are roles that Brooks would intermittently invoke and inhabit throughout her career as a poet. Another way to be a Teller that she was drawn to was the role of a reporter or journalist, she published her poems in The Chicago Defender Newspaper.
4. Food: Beans- In many of her poems, Brooks sought to portray the everyday life of poor people who suffer from economic inequities that plague America. In one of her poems called The Bean Eaters, she makes a social commentary about the poor by painting a picture of a poor old couple eating beans everyday, one of the cheapest foods.
5. Color: Black- In an speech, Brooks told the audience that she preferred to refer to herself as “black” rather than Afro-American or African American because “black” is inclusive of all peoples, cultures, and races. It allows all people of African descent spread throughout the world, even the ones who cannot trace their roots precisely to any one African country, tribe, or language, to become a part of a larger extended family
6. Geometric Shape: Rhombus- With the shape of a diamond, Brooks shone bright and brought light to the black community. She always has a bright and glowing smile.
7. Fragrance: Onion fumes and trash– Brooks evoked the sights and smells of the ghetto with enviable precision, producing art that speaks to the black community and that captures the complexities, joys, and pains of black culture.
8. Type of Building: Kitchenette building– Gwendolyn Brooks wrote a poem about a kitchenette building which is small apartment building with lots of one-room apartments where several families share kitchens and bathrooms. She wanted her readers to see the crowded, stinky, and rundown places where many African Americans were forced to live because they were black and poor and had no other choice.
9. Word: Concerned- When I first came across her poems, I saw her as a compassionate, loving and a deeply concerned person. She was concerned about so many issues and her poems depicted vivid and powerful descriptions of poverty, social inequality, death, and spiritual loss.
10. Musical Instrument: Low Saxophone– Brooks is best known for her short poem “We Real Cool” which reads like the lyrics of a jazz tune. In this poem, her voice produces deep vibrations like a low saxophone.
11. Season of the Year: Summer- Brooks is warm and loving and her words bring to life her most enduring legacy which is her unconditional love and respect for black people and their struggles to survive amid adversity
12. Appliance / Machinery: Loud speaker- Like a loud speaker, Brooks spoke out against the injustices in America and in other countries, such as the system of apartheid in South Africa.
13. Natural Phenomenon: Rainstorm- Like a rainstorm, Brooks themes for her poems very often serious, powerful and gloomy like racism and poverty, life in the American family, the trauma of world war, and the search for dignity and happiness in a society that is often unjust and oppressive
14. Planet: Pluto– Although she was well known, Gwendolyn Brooks lived a quiet life. She would be Pluto, a dwarf planet because said her greatest interest was being involved with young people and she loved children so much. She spent time giving readings at schools, prisons and hospitals.
15. Movie Character: William Wilberforce in the movie Amazing Grace –Both Wilberforce and Brooks were very passionate and concerned about the black people, they both expressed anger about racial injustice but both were considered to have a gentle spirit and a very giving nature.