With seminal works including Annie Allen, A Street in Bronzeville and We Real Cool, iconic Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks captured the essence of daily life in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood. She gave a voice to the African American community with images and stories that elegantly reflected their triumphs and challenges. Celebrate the upcoming centennial of her birth and the significance of her legacy with a free reading February 2 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
February 2 at 6 p.m. | The Art Institute of Chicago's Rubloff Auditorium
The Poetry Foundation and the Art Institute of Chicago host this free event featuring an unprecedented line-up of five African American, Pulitzer Prize–winning poets, who will read works that honor Brooks' influence. Brooks herself is author of more than 20 books of poetry. She became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950 for Annie Allen and was named the poet laureate of Illinois in 1968.
The poets honoring her life and work include Rita Dove, who won the Pulitzer in 1986 for Thomas and Beaulah; Yusef Komunyakaa, who won in 1994 for Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977-1989; Natasha Tretheway, who won in 2007 for Native Guard; Tracy K. Smith, who won in 2011 for Life on Mars; and Gregory Pardio, who won in 2015 for Digest. The celebration will also feature discussions and conversations with the poets.
Chicago literary fans can also explore more of Brooks' far-reaching influence with the new book, Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks. Published by the Humboldt Park–based press Curbside Splendor Publishing and edited by local literary stars Quraysh Ali Lansana and Sandra Jackson Opoku, the collection of poetry, essays and art honors Brooks's life, art and activism.
Located near The Magnificent Mile, the Poetry Foundation is the first space in Chicago dedicated solely to poetry. Plan a visit to explore the 30,000-volume library collection and the rotating exhibition gallery.