A Splendid Memory of Gwendolyn Brooks

My congratulations go to POETRY Magazine for honoring the work of Gwendolyn Brooks on her one-hundredth birthday. A wonderful choice.

As the online information from POETRY states: Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the most highly regarded, highly influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry. She was a much-honored poet, even in her lifetime, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois.

I only had the pleasure of meeting her a June Saturday in 1987. She had invited more than two dozen Chicago poets to a room at University of Chicago. Besides my husband, I only remember a former editor of POETRY Magazine, John Federick Nims and his wife, Bonnie. While the occasion was Miss Brooks’ seventieth birthday, the agenda she created was that each poet would read one of their poems, after which she would present them with a check. She reversed the usual agenda of receiving presents on one’s birthday, by monetarily supporting and encouraging poets.

After the poems were read and checks presented I recall being introduced to Miss Brooks, her daughter, and, husband, Henry. My vivid impression was of a woman who graciously, quietly was in control.

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