Poems > USA > Brooks
Sadie and Maud
by Gwendolyn Brooks

Maud went to college.
Sadie stayed at home.
Sadie scraped life
With a fine-tooth comb.

She didn’t leave a tangle in.
Her comb found every strand.
Sadie was one of the livingest chits
In all the land.

Sadie bore two babies
Under her maiden name.
Maud and Ma and Papa
Nearly died of shame.
Every one but Sadie
Nearly died of shame.

When Sadie said her last so-long
Her girls struck out from home.
(Sadie had left as heritage
Her fine-tooth comb.)

Maud, who went to college,
Is a thin brown mouse.
She is living all alone
In this old house.

when Mrs. Martin's Booker T.
by Gwendolyn Brooks

When Mrs. Martin's Booker T.
Ruined Rosa Brown
Mrs. Martin moved away
To the low west side of town.
“Don’t care if I never see that boy
Again to the end of my days.
He wrung my heart like a chicken neck.
And he made me a disgrace.
Don’t come to tell me he’s dyin’.
Don’t come to tell me he’s dead.
But tell me if’n he take that gal
And get her decent wed."
Gwendolyn Brooks
(Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks)
Born: June 7, 1917, Topeka, Kansas, U.S.
Died: December 3, 2000 (aged 83), Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
   Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas on June 7th, 1917 to Keziah (Wims) Brooks (schoolteacher) and David Anderson Brooks (janitor).
    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. Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period. Her body of work gave her, according to critic George E. Kent, “a unique position in American letters. Not only has she combined a strong commitment to racial identity and equality with a mastery of poetic techniques, but she has also managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young black militant writers of the 1960s.”
Both poems
are from the e-book
A Street in BronzevilleA Library of America
by Gwendolyn Brooks
She was 13 when her first published poem, “Eventide,” appeared in American Childhood; by the time she was 17 she was publishing poems frequently in the Chicago Defender, a newspaper serving Chicago’s black population. After such formative experiences as attending junior college and working for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she developed her craft in poetry workshops and began writing the poems, focusing on urban blacks, that would be published in her first collection, A Street in Bronzeville.

'Song of Winnie', Library Walk, New York City