A Major Celebration of the Life and Work of Gwendolyn Brooks

The University of Chicago is planning a major celebration of the work of African American poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Events are being held throughout the spring semester, culminating with a major conference from April 6-8. The events commemorate the 100th anniversary of Brooks’ birth.

Brooks, who died in 2000, was the former poet laureate of the state of Illinois and in 1950 was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize. Brooks never graduated from college but obtained more than 70 honorary doctorates from colleges and universities throughout the world.

Brooks was a native of Topeka, Kansas, but spent much of her life in Chicago. She published her first poem at the age of 13. Over a long career, she taught at the University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago State University, and Columbia College in Chicago.

Nora Brooks Blakely, the poet’s daughter, stated “for years there has been a murmur and a mutter about the lack of attention paid to Gwendolyn Brooks at the college and post-graduate level. One of the many reasons I’m so excited about this celebration is my belief that the centennial and specifically the University of Chicago conference in April will shine a new light on my mother’s canon.”

More information on the scheduled events is available here.


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