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THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO PAYS TRIBUTE TO GWENDOLYN BROOKS

2/15/2017, noon | Updated on 2/15/2017, noon
Our Miss Brooks 100 is an ongoing centennial celebration of the life and legacy of Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks. If Ms. ...
Left to right: Rita Dove, Natasha Trethewey, Yusef Komunyakaa, Nora Brooks Blakley, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Tracy K. Smith and Gregory Pardlo, backstage at Reading: Our Miss Brooks 100. Photo Courtesy of the Chicago Community Trust

Brooks was also the poet laureate of the State of Illinois from 1968 until her death in 2000.

She also received an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, the Frost Medal, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, the Shelley Memorial Award, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Guggenheim Foundation. Born in Topeka, Kansas, Brooks’ family moved to Chicago when she was young. Her parents supported her passion for reading and writing.

Brooks was 13 when her first published poem, Eventide, appeared

in the publication American Childhood and by the time she was 17, she was publishing poems frequently in the Chicago Defender.

After attending junior college and working for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she developed her craft in poetry workshops and began writing the poems, focusing on urban blacks that would be published in her first collection,

A Street in Bronzeville.

Many of Brooks’ works displayed a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, several of her poems reflected the civil rights activism of that period. Her work has stood the test of time influencing not just the work of other poets, but some in the hip hop generation, including people like Chance the Rapper,

Lupe Fiasco and Rhymefest.

This event was presented in collaboration with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Poetry Foundation, Poets & Writers, the Guild Literary Complex, the Chicago Community Trust, and encouraged by the Pulitzer Prizes.