Nicky Beer – Most Bizarre Beauty Queens of the 1950’s
—after an article by Elyse Wanshe
It’s easy to snicker at the Sausage Queen,
draped in a stole of glistening, tumescent weenies,
a quintet of bratwurst bristling from her pasteboard crown.
Or 1954’s Miss National Catfish Queen, posed with a monster
CM Burroughs – Gwendolyn as Lover
We will count on these walls
to the strangers who take up
Caroline Clark – Odysseus is Gone
*****And slendering to his burning rim
*****Into the flat blue mist the sun
*****Drops out and all our day is done.
I see it happening late—
*****************your face becomes elsewhere
Gwendolyn Brooks Day recognized with ‘We Real Cool’ video – Darcel Rockett – Chicago Tribune – 6/6/17
The Difficult Miracle of Black Poetry in America
“It was not natural. And she was the first. Come from a country of many tongues tortured by rupture, by theft, by travel like mismatched clothing packed down into the cargo hold of evil ships sailing, irreversible, into slavery. Come to a country to be docile and dumb, to be big and breeding, easily, to be turkey/horse/cow, to be cook/carpenter/plow, to be 5’6” 140 lbs., in good condition and answering to the name of Tom or Mary: to be bed bait: to be legally spread legs for rape by the master/the master’s son/the master’s overseer/the master’s visiting nephew: to be nothing human nothing family nothing from nowhere nothing that screams nothing that weeps nothing that dreams nothing that keeps anything/anyone deep in your heart: to live forcibly illiterate, forcibly itinerant: to live eyes lowered head bowed: to be worked without rest, to be worked without pay, to be worked without thanks, to be worked day up to nightfall: to be three-fifths of a human being at best: to be this valuable/this hated thing among strangers who purchased your life and then cursed it unceasingly: to be a slave: to be a slave. Come to this country a slave and how should you sing? After the flogging the lynch rope the general terror and weariness what should you know of a lyrical life? How could you, belonging to no one, but property to those despising the smiles of your soul, how could you dare to create yourself: a poet?”
“poets, lovers of poetry, and teachers of poetry to keep Gwendolyn Brooks’s name and work alive for the next hundred years and the hundred years after that. May it still be read, memorized, recited, and shared in that future time, when life—black life—is no miracle, but as quotidian as the revolution of the earth.”
“Brooks was in her living room when she learned she had won [the Pulitzer Prize], she recalled in a Library of Congress interview, and it was growing dark. She didn’t turn on the lights, because she knew what would happen. Money was tight, and the bill hadn’t been paid.”
Read what happened next: Remembering The Great Poet Gwendolyn Brooks At 100 – Karen Grisby Bates – KUNC.org – May 29, 2017
That cloud-hid moon made a silent Oh
every night my daughter asked for her mother
and maybe I told her the moon was her mother
Read rest of this “Golden Shovel” poem in Matthew Zapruder’s New York Times Magazine column.
The original Gwendolyn Brooks poem that Yu’s is based on is called “the sonnet-ballad.” The last word of each line in Yu’s poem comes from the first line of Brooks’ poem.
“The poems of this anthology do not pay homage to Brooks in a traditional way. Instead, they seek to carry on her words through an entirely new literary form, called the ‘Golden Shovel.’ In a Golden Shovel poem, a poet takes a line or lines from a Brooks poem, and then uses each word from those lines, in order, as the end words of their new poem. Hayes invented the form in his 2010 poem called ‘The Golden Shovel,’ which used the lines of Brooks’ well-known poem ‘We Real Cool,’ as the ending words in his.” – Elizabeth Flock – How Gwendolyn Brooks’ poetry is connecting Emmett Till with the violence in Chicago today – 3/7/14 – PBS Newshour
“At the other extreme are those who believe that, in a time of crisis, the ordinary rituals of making art must cease. [In VARIATIONS: AFTER NOVEMBER 8 –
MUSIC IN MOMENTS OF CRISIS, Lucy] Caplan notes that some of her friends have been quoting Gwendolyn Brooks’s 1949 poem ‘First Fight. Then Fiddle’:
. . . Carry hate
In front of you and harmony behind.
Be deaf to music and to beauty blind.
Win war. Rise bloody, maybe not too late
For having first to civilize a space
Wherein to play your violin with grace.
These are invigorating words, although Caplan pinpoints an inherent paradox: Brooks’s poem is ‘art sending the message that it is not yet time for art.’ If artists everywhere were to give themselves over to agitprop, something essential would be lost. To create a space of refuge, to enjoy a period of respite, is not necessarily an act of acquiescence.
-Alex Ross, MAKING ART IN A TIME OF RAGE – The New Yorker – 2/8/17
Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
What Would Gwendolyn Brooks Do – Parneshia Jones
Dawn oversees percolating coffee
and the new wreckage of the world.
I stand before my routine reflection,
button up my sanity,
brush weary strands of hair with pomade
and seal cracked lips of distrust
with cocoa butter and matte rouge.
We, As Other People – Kelli Allen
We’ve been very happy in the small open area
we named alter. When we lay down
it is a fragile offering, ellipses of arms,
galaxies of fox-light hairs, moving,
a division between tremble and bristle.
The carabao arrived on our street bearing the world,
pulling a wooden cart hill-high with watermelons.
Its handler, a man the rich color of coffee, tugged