Critical Insights: Gwendolyn Brooks
The essays in this volume pay tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks’s legacy. They explore Brooks’s sustained dialectic with American historical events such as World War II and the Civil Rights movement, the cultural complexities of racial segregation, major movements in black letters such as the Black Arts movement, modernist ideas promoting individuality and exploring the feelings associated with loneliness, rejection of the status quo in society, open critique of history and its chroniclers, and revisions of traditional literary forms, such as the epic and the sonnet, as a means to incorporate a neglected black experience and contribution into American history and letters. The essays show how Brooks’s quest was at times a lonely one. The poet was often perceived as catering too much to either the white mainstream or the black folk aesthetic, and her agenda to write her own truth as she saw fit is sometimes lost within her subtle intertextual wordplay with black and white literary influences. Still, it is the fine line that Brooks walks between black and white cultural influences that makes her most fascinating to readers.