83 Gwendolyn Brooks Quotes from Famous American Poet

Gwendolyn Brooks, born in Topeka in 1917, grew up in Chicago and began writing poetry as a teenager.

She was encouraged by prominent poets like Langston Hughes and contributed to the Chicago Defender.

Brooks authored over twenty poetry books, receiving the Pulitzer Prize for “Annie Allen” and was acknowledged by Richard Wright for “A Street in Bronzeville”.

She also penned a novel, autobiography and edited anthologies.

After a 1967 literary conference, she embraced the Black Power movement and ran poetry workshops.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Named Illinois’ poet laureate in 1968, she garnered numerous accolades, including the National Medal of the Arts. Brooks was dedicated to public service, holding poetry sessions in prisons and hospitals.

She passed away in Chicago in 2000.

Here are some of the best quotes by Gwendolyn Brooks.

Best Gwendolyn Brooks Quotes

If you scream, you’re marked “insane”. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


Be careful what you swallow. Chew! ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


First fight. Then fiddle. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


This is the urgency: Live! and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


You remember the children you got that you did not get. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


Life for my child is simple, and is good. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

When you use the term minority or minorities in reference to people, you’re telling them that they’re less than somebody else. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


Art hurts. Art urges voyages – and it is easier to stay at home. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

I think there are things for all of us to do as long as we’re here and we’re healthy. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Nobody is saying that these people do not ultimately cease to be. And sometimes their passings are even more painful than ours… ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


You are the beautiful half of a golden hurt. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

We real cool. We Left school. We Lurk late. We Strike straight. We Sing sin. We Thin gin. We Jazz June. We Die soon.. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

What I’m fighting for now in my work…for an expression relevant to all manner of blacks, poems I could take into a tavern, into the street, into the halls of a housing project. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Very early in life I became fascinated with the wonders language can achieve. And I began playing with words. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


The civil rights situation is like a pregnancy. It will get worse, I believe, before it gets better. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

It is a real chill out. The fall crisp comes I am aware there is winter to heed. There is no warm house That is fitted with my need. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Nothing could stop Mississippi. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

To be in love, Is to touch things with a lighter hand. In yourself you stretch, you are well. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

I don’t like the idea of the black race being diluted out of existence. I like the idea of all of us being here. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Famous Gwendolyn Brooks Quotes

I swear to keep the dead upon my mind, Disdain for all time to be overglad. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Do not be afraid of no, Who has so far, so very far to go. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


I am an ordinary human being who is impelled to write poetry. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

I enjoyed reading poetry and I tried to write it when I was about seven, at the time that I first tried to put rhymes together. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

We don’t ask a flower any special reason for its existence. We just look at it and are able to accept it as being something different from ourselves. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

I shall create! If not a note, a hole. If not an overture, a desecration. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

What she wanted was to donate to the world a good Maud Martha. That was the offering, the bit of art, that could not come from any other. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

People are so in need, in need of help. People want so much that they do not know. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

One reason that cats are happier than people is that they have no newspapers. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


When I start writing a poem, I don’t think about models or about what anybody else in the world has done. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

The forties and fifties were years of high poet-incense; the language-flowers were thickly sweet. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Top Gwendolyn Brooks Quotes

Books are meat and medicine and flame and flight and flower steel, stitch, cloud and clout, and drumbeats on the air. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Truth-tellers are not always palatable. There is a preference for candy bars. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


Art is a refining and evocative translation of the materials of the world. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Graves grow no green that you can use. Remember, green’s your color. You are Spring. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

At a certain moment in social proceedings, I am on fire to leave: I have a leaving-fit. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

A writer should get as much education as possible, but just going to school is not enough; if it were, all owners of doctorates would be inspired writers. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

I felt that I had to write. Even if I had never been published, I knew that I would go on writing, enjoying it and experiencing the challenge. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Sweet is it, sweet is it; To sleep in the coolness; Of snug unawareness. The dark hangs heavily; Over the eyes. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


A cry of bitter dead men who will never attend a gentle maker of musical joy. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

A poem doesn’t do everything for you. You are supposed to go on with your thinking. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Popular Gwendolyn Brooks Quotes

Live not for battles won. Live not for The-End-of-the-Song. Live in the along. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

She was learning to love moments. To love moments for themselves. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


I am a writer perhaps because I am not a talker. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

I am interested in telling my particular truth as I have seen it. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

When white and black meet today, sometimes there is a ready understanding that there has been an encounter between two human beings. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

With melted opals for my milk, Pearl-leaf for my cracker. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Every day there’s something exciting or disturbing to write about. With all that’s going on, how could I stop? ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

When you love a man, he becomes more than a body. His physical limbs expand, and his outline recedes, vanishes. He is rich and sweet and right. He is part of the world, the atmosphere, the blue sky and the blue water. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


Life must be aromatic. There must be scent, somehow there must be some. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

I know that the Black emphasis must be not against white but for Black. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Poetry is life distilled. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Great Gwendolyn Brooks Quotes

My last defense, is the present tense. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

As you get older, you find that often the wheat, disentangling itself from the chaff, comes out to meet you. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


Good health is a duty to yourself, to your contemporaries, to your inheritors, to the progress of the world. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Do not desire to fit in. Desire to oblige yourselves to lead. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Exhaust the little moment. Soon it dies. And be it gash or gold it will not come again in this identical disguise. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Each body has its art… ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Writing is a delicious agony. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

She was afraid to suggest to him that to most people, nothing “happens”. That most people merely live from day to day until they die. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


Goodness begins simply with the fact of life itself. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Powerful Gwendolyn Brooks Quotes

It is brave to be involved. To be not fearful to be unresolved. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Be yourself. Don’t imitate other poets. You are as important as they are. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

I think it must be lonely to be God. Nobody loves a master. No. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

People like definite decisions, Tidy answers, all the little ravelings. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Young, and so thin, and so straight. So straight! as if nothing could ever bend her.… ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Even if you are not ready for day, it cannot always be night. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

I like the concentration, the crush; I like working with language, as others like working with clay, or notes. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

I tell poets that when a line just floats into your head, don’t pay attention ’cause it probably has floated into somebody else’s head. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


Reading is important – read between the lines. Don’t swallow everything. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Poets oblige themselves to see. Poetry is siren, prose is survey. I keep telling children: Poetry comes out of life. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

Wise Gwendolyn Brooks Quotes

I believe we should all know each other, we human carriers of so many pleasurable differences. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

I’ve written so many poems that I believe some of them will stay alive. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

You’re not less than anybody else. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

My Poem is life, and not finished. It shall never be finished. My Poem is life, and can grow. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.


No man can give me any word but wait… ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

There can be no whiter whiteness than this one: An insurance man’s shirt on its morning run. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

The poetry is myself. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks.

So these were the 83 top Gwendolyn Brooks quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Emil Cioran quotes and Jose Marti quotes.

Short Biography of Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks was a trailblazing African American poet, acclaimed for capturing the essence of her community’s life in her work.

Born in 1917 in Topeka, Kansas, and raised in Chicago, Brooks’ writing journey began early, encouraged by her family.

She became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950 for her poetry collection “Annie Allen”.

Full Name Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks
Born 7 June 1917, Topeka, Kansas, United States
Died 3 December 2000 (age 83 years), South Side, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Education Kennedy-King College (1936), MORE
Occupation Poet
Children Nora Brooks Blakely, Henry Lowington Blakely III
Spouse Henry Lowington Blakely, Jr. (m. 1939; died 1996)
Parents Keziah Wims, David Anderson Brooks
Period 1930–2000
Notable works A Street in Bronzeville, Annie Allen, Winnie
Notable awards Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1950)
Robert Frost Medal (1989)
National Medal of Arts (1995)

A significant figure in literature, she held the title of Illinois Poet Laureate for over three decades and served as U.S. Poet Laureate in 1985-86.

Despite facing racial challenges, Brooks’ early education in diverse schools and her keen observation of Chicago’s urban life profoundly influenced her writing.

She published her first poem at 13 and continued to contribute to the Chicago Defender.

Opting against a traditional four-year degree, Brooks focused on her writing career, attending workshops and publishing her first book, “A Street in Bronzeville”, in 1945.

Her work, including the Pulitzer-winning “Annie Allen” and the novella “Maud Martha”, is celebrated for its authentic portrayal of African American life.

Brooks also dedicated herself to teaching and mentoring young poets until her passing in 2000.

Quick Facts about Gwendolyn Brooks

  • Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was an acclaimed American poet, author, and teacher.
  • Born on June 7, 1917, in Topeka, Kansas, she was raised in Chicago.
  • Brooks was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950.
  • Her Pulitzer-winning work was “Annie Allen.”
  • She served as Illinois’ Poet Laureate from 1968 until her death in 2000.
  • Brooks was named U.S. Poet Laureate for the 1985-86 term.
  • In 1976, she became the first African American woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
  • Her father aspired to be a doctor but became a janitor to support his family.
  • Her mother was a school teacher and a classically trained concert pianist.
  • Brooks’ early life was marked by the Great Migration when her family moved to Chicago.
  • She began writing at an early age, encouraged by her mother.
  • Brooks published her first poem at 13 in American Childhood magazine.
  • By high school graduation, she was a regular contributor to The Chicago Defender.
  • She attended Wilson Junior College, opting out of a four-year degree to focus on writing.
  • Brooks’ first book, “A Street in Bronzeville,” was published in 1945.
  • Her work depicted the lives of African Americans in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.
  • “Annie Allen” portrays a young Black girl’s journey into womanhood.
  • “Maud Martha,” a novella, explores the life and struggles of a black woman.
  • Brooks experienced and addressed racial and gender prejudice in her works.
  • Her poem “In the Mecca” was nominated for a National Book Award in 1968.
  • Brooks was influenced by the Black cultural nationalism of the 1960s.
  • She engaged with young black poets and the Blackstone Rangers gang through creative writing.
  • Brooks taught at several prestigious institutions, sharing her passion for poetry.
  • The University of Illinois and UC Berkeley hold collections of her papers and archives.
  • Brooks married Henry Lowington Blakely, Jr. in 1939, and they had two children.
  • Her son served in the U.S. Marine Corps, during which she mentored his fiancée in poetry.
  • Brooks enjoyed a mentoring role, especially with young black poets.
  • She passed away on December 3, 2000, in Chicago, at the age of 83.
  • Brooks is buried in Lincoln Cemetery.
  • Her legacy includes numerous awards and an enduring influence on American literature and poetry.

Top Questions about Gwendolyn Brooks

Q: Who was Gwendolyn Brooks?

A: Gwendolyn Brooks was a Chicago-based poet who started publishing her work as a teenager. She gained national recognition with her 1945 collection “A Street in Bronzeville” and in 1950, became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for her book “Annie Allen.”

Q: What is Gwendolyn Brooks’ most famous poem?

A: Her most famous poem is “We Real Cool,” from the 1960 collection “The Bean Eaters.” It’s celebrated for its rhythm and rhyme.

Q: What is Gwendolyn Brooks best known for?

A: Brooks is renowned as a pivotal 20th-century American poet, the first Black poet to win a Pulitzer Prize, and the author of over 20 books.

Q: What is a famous quote by Gwendolyn Brooks?

A: One notable quote is: “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

Q: Who inspired Gwendolyn Brooks to write?

A: She was inspired by literary figures like Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Richard Wright, and embraced themes of self-acceptance, love, and confidence.

Q: Can you share some interesting facts about Gwendolyn Brooks?

A: In 1968, she was named Illinois’ poet laureate, became the first African American in the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1976, and in 1985, was the first Black woman appointed as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.

Q: What inspired Gwendolyn Brooks’ poetry?

A: Her experiences as a Black woman in Chicago deeply influenced her work, notably reflected in her Pulitzer-winning book “Annie Allen.”

Q: What are three significant aspects of Gwendolyn Brooks’ life?

A: Brooks is known for her collections like “A Street in Bronzeville,” serving as Illinois’ poet laureate for 32 years, and being the first Black woman as the U.S. Library of Congress consultant in poetry.

Q: How is Gwendolyn Brooks remembered today?

A: She’s commemorated as a pioneering Black author and poet laureate, celebrated for her contributions to American poetry.

Q: What is Gwendolyn Brooks’ legacy?

A: Brooks left behind a legacy of inspiring and hopeful poetry that continues to motivate new generations of writers.

Q: For which poem did Gwendolyn Brooks win the Pulitzer Prize?

A: She won the Pulitzer for “Annie Allen,” which explores the life of a black girl in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

Q: What challenges did Gwendolyn Brooks face?

A: Brooks navigated through racial barriers and segregation prevalent during her early life in Chicago.

Q: What literary movement was Gwendolyn Brooks part of?

A: Brooks was a key figure in the Chicago Black Renaissance and served as Illinois’ Poet Laureate from 1968.

Q: How many poetry collections did Gwendolyn Brooks write?

A: Brooks authored over 20 poetry collections, including notable works like “A Street in Bronzeville” and “The Bean Eaters.”

Q: What makes Gwendolyn Brooks a significant figure in American literature?

A: Brooks’ impact lies in her role as a leading 20th-century American poet, her groundbreaking Pulitzer win as the first Black poet, and her extensive literary contributions.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar