How truly fortunate I am today for having the privilege to celebrate the birthdays of 2 wonderful female African American poets whose works I have either performed in college drama classes, shared with my elementary students and just read on my own for sheer joy. Both Nikki Giovanni (1943) and Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) were born on June 7 th!
“On May 6, 1985, Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin announced the appointment of Gwendolyn Brooks as the 29th Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Brooks, the first African American author to win the Pulitzer Prize, is perhaps best known for her lyrical portraits of African American urban life.”
“Gwendolyn Brooks’ poetry ranges from traditional forms including ballads, sonnets, variations of Chaucerian and Spenserian stanzas to the familiar rhythms of the blues to an unhindered free verse. In sum, nearly all the popular forms of English poetry appear in her work, as do the competing energies of lyric, narrative, and dramatic modes. Her syntax is muscular, vibrant, and surprising. Her fondness for imbedded rhymes as well as her love of the tonal beauties of assonance and consonance make Brooks’ work a musical experience in the ear and on the tongue, something as enjoyable to speak aloud as to hear.”
“Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Over the past thirty years, her outspokenness, in her writing and in lectures, has brought the eyes of the world upon her. One of the most widely-read American poets, she prides herself on being “a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English.” Giovanni remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the Black community. Her focus is on the individual, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others.”
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