Gwendolyn Brooks Interview from 1967



in Washington DC and I am speaking with Gwendolyn Brooks a poet with many honors and awards to her credit and a number of books of verse and a novel Miss Brooks I wonder if you would tell us the names of your volumes of poetry in the name of your novel the poetry her name speed in Bronzeville Andy Allen Rossville boys and girls to being injured and selected poems and what was the name of your novel Martha Lloyd Martha which was the one for which you were awarded the Pulitzer Prize any our 50 1950 and was that poem related to your life at the time well various aspects of my life but not specifically you did grow up in Chicago did you not where you now live yes and so of course your work would reflect the surroundings of your own life yes yes they're there they're very City busywork now I believe that you started to write as a very young child yes I was seven so says my mother do you remember do you or she remember any lives that she wrote at that early age no I I don't well what was your first published poem I believe that was when you were in high school well let's see let's say I was 13 at the time that's a children's magazine American childhood accepted a poem called Eventide that was my first do do I have that yeah yours keep a copy of that I have it buried here somewhere that I can't remember reading about your life I see that you had literature in your home as a child yes we had many books we had the Harvard class poetry individual thousands of poetry and essays my brother and I read do you recall any writers you felt we're of particular value to you as you were developing your own creative writing yes I said poem to James Weldon Johnson so forth Langston Hughes with me both here in Chicago and they both encouraged me James Weldon Johnson suggested first that I read more modern poetry than I was beating in a sense and webmonitor traditions and I read well I began reading in TS Eliot John Crowe ransom Robert Penn Warren such people oh do you find that you weep poetry today of the younger generation oh yes indeed yes indeed in fact I worked with some of the younger poets here in Chicago it was very fiery young men and women who believed in writing big poetry speak Partridge Creek Street poetry do you think you could could you tell us a little bit more about that well these are young blacks as they prefer to call themselves they don't like the working room and they are very fierce with race pride they want to speak to other black they want to awaken an awareness or developed an awareness of black importance and their fellows and that's the kind of poetry and fiction I wonder in their writings poetry particularly do they write within established fighting techniques or do they take a freer attitude towards structure of all these things they have a contempt for the form and for well for anything that is think to them white founded Caucasian self so of course all of their poetry is written in free verse the freest approvers are these some of these young writer students and your creative writing classes we meet once a month and I see them during the month 2 individually no this is not a regular creative writing class I have creative writing classes and colleges here what do you think the tendency is among the students in your classes what is their attitude towards poetry they like it when it is given to the final and on an individual basis when they are able to write it in a very personal way they keep telling me this poetry has always seemed like something to be enthroned but I tried to get some time to stand that it's a very civilians day and that it's a huggable thing do you feel I'm sorry do you feel that you can will help these young people to bring out their impulses and their talent inside telling them most urgently to see themselves sexy for free well I think that's that's good advice for all of us yeah and now I think we have a about a minute left I wonder if you could tell us what you are thinking of in the future in terms of your own right I have a new book of laws coming out in August Harper will publish this called in the Bekaa and it's about swap lies and an old in very famous building that was here in Chicago as has been long since arendelle thank very much impressed but the many lives in that building no one was ever sure does how many were there maybe between Salzmann touvell and that's the life that I've tried that I'm sure we shall look forward to and isn't there an idea of an autobiography to come along yes I'm working on that well we should be very interested to read that indeed thank you very much for speaking with us miss Brooks thank you that was Gwendolyn Brooks distinguished poet this is Bridget lay for America Washington thank you Miss Brooks

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