We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks: A Message for Troubled Youth

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In Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool” the speaker describes the life of seven troubled teenagers and the dire consequences that result from living a risky lifestyle. Brooks illustrates the lives of these teenagers using a variety of poetic devices and a unique form. The poem is quite short; only four stanzas, each being a two line couplet. Brooks’ intention was to send an important message to teenagers, her target audience for this poem. Gwendolyn Brooks was born on June 7, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas. She started writing poetry at the age of seven and had her first poem published when she was just thirteen years old. By the time Brooks turned sixteen she had seventy-nine published poems, most of which focused on the lives of African-American’s and their struggle with racism and poverty. Throughout her carrier Brooks was granted numerous awards and was the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. On top of her awards, Brooks was granted forty-nine honorary degrees and over seventy-five honorary doctorates from colleges and universities all over the world. Sadly, Brooks died on December 3, 2000, just one week after being diagnosed with cancer, and is buried at the Lincoln Cemetery in Blue Island, Illinois. She has had a cultural center, three middle schools, an elementary school, a college, and a library named after her, and in 2002 was named one of the 100 Greatest African-Americans (Yemisi). “We Real Cool” is one of Gwendolyn Brooks’ most popular poems.

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