A Poet Who Knew It

Brooks2Gwendolyn Brooks @ 100

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.” From poetryfoundation.org.

And now its time to celebrate the life of this remarkable poet, 100 years on.

100 libraries, museums, and cultural centers all over the state have agreed to celebrate the centennial.

A little over a week after the 100th anniversary of her birth, “Matter in the Margins: Gwendolyn Brooks at 100,” an exhibition at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, opens tomorrow, June 16, showcasing selections from Gwendolyn Brooks’s personal archives. Brooks was an inveterate note-taker and self-chronicler, and her archives are filled with Post-Its, hotel stationery, and other scraps of paper on which she recorded her daily life and current events. She sketched out future plans and recorded meaningful memories in the fly-leaves of notebooks and on the backs of photographs, and she interrogated others’ ideas and narratives in the margins of letters she received and books she read. Here, the poet worked out the process of becoming, raising important questions about completion, authority, self-fashioning, and memory.

For more information on the Gwendolyn Brooks and the centennial celebration you can visit the official “Celebrating Gwendolyn Brooks @ 100” site here.

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Quoth the Raven

Quoth the RavenEdgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” was first published today, January 29, in 1845. One of the best known American poems, and undoubtedly the best known poem about a raven ever written, it is as popular and frequently referenced today as it ever was.

To check out “The Raven” and Poe’s other works stop by the Moline Public Library.

Big Birthday Week

In light of the sheer number of birthdays this week we will be going with a brief, “what are they best know for” write-up for our beloved authors. This is in no way meant to be a reflection on them or their work. It is only a reflection of this humble blogger, who regrettably only has so much time. Also, I skipped breakfast so I would like to be done in time for lunch.

Hunter S. Thompson (b. July 18, 1937, Louisville, KY; d. February 20,  2005, Woody Creek, CO)

Selfie?“The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” Read more quotes here.

Best Known for: Reporting for Rolling Stone Magazine, inventing “gonzo journalism,” writing Hell’s Angels, The Rum Diary (made into a Johnny Depp movie), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (also made into a Johnny Depp movie), “drugs, alcohol, violence, [and] insanity”

For more on Hunter S. Thompson, click here.

Stephen Coonts (b. July 19, 1946, Buckhannon, WV)

Executive Air“All really great flying adventures begin at dawn.” Find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being a naval aviator in the Vietnam War, writing military, action, techno-thriller novels and creating the character Jack Grafton

For more information on Mr. Coonts and his books, click here.

 

Petrarch (b. July 20, 1304, Arezzo, Italy; d. July, 19, 1374, Arqua Petrarca, Italy)

Nice leaves“Five enemies of peace inhabit with us – avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride; if these were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace.” You can find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being a Renaissance scholar and poet, beginning the humanist philosophical movement as well as the concept of the “Dark Ages,” writing Canzoniere, Trionfi and Africa

For more information on Petrarch, click here.

 

Cormac McCarthy (b. July 20, 1933, Providence, RI)

The lighting makes you look slightly sinister in spite of the smile.“My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold, and anything else is just a waste of time.” More McCarthy quotes here.

Best Known for: Being named Cormac (seriously, how many other Cormacs do you know?), winning the MacArthur Genius Grant, being one of the most respected American novelists of the last 50 years, writing Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses (movie), No Country for Old Men (movie) and The Road (another movie), and… oh yeah, winning a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

For information on Cormac McCarthy and his books you can go to his website, here.

 

Ernest Hemingway (b. July 21, 1899, Oak Park, IL; d. July 2, 1961, Ketchum, ID)

What is he looking at?“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Read more quotes here.

Best Known for: Fighting in multiple wars, living it up in Paris, going on safari and in general leading a life of adventure and being the model of modern masculinity; he also wrote The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize for Literature for his efforts – not too shabby

For more on Ernest Hemingway, click here.

 

Raymond Chandler (b. July 23, 1888, Chicago, IL; d. March 26, 1959, La Jolla, CA)

Pipes - the most distinguished way to get mouth cancer“I think a man ought to get drunk at least twice a year just on principle, so he won’t let himself get snotty about it.” You can find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being an oil executive that lost his livelihood during the great depression and had to turn to writing detective stories to make a living, co-authoring several Hollywood screenplays (including the Oscar-nominated Double Indemnity), creating the character Philip Marlowe (later played by Humphrey Bogart), and writing several masterpieces of the hard-boiled detective genre, including The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, The Little Sister and The Long Goodbye

For more Chandler information, click here.