Free and open to the public. Visitor parking meters are located across the street from Festival in Lot C12 behind the bus stop.
As part of our month-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of Gwendolyn Brooks’s birth, Furious Flower shares images by C. B. Claiborne from its archives and those on loan from the Eugene B. Redmond Collection curated by Dr. Howard Rambsy at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIUE). The photographs feature this ground-breaking American poet and her contemporaries.
We present this exhibit in James Madison University’s Prism Gallery in cooperation with the Madison Art Collective. Additional events at JMU to celebrate the Brooks Centennial during National Poetry Month 2017:
Born June 7, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas, Gwendolyn Brooks once described writing as “a delicious agony.” Producing her first poem at age 13, she embraced this process and created some of the most outstanding poetry of the 20th century.
Brooks’s writing career garnered a magnificent array of achievements, including the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Annie Allen, making her the first Black writer to earn this award. In 1968 she was named Poet Laureate of Illinois, and she held that post until her death in 2000. From 1985 to 1986, she was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, and in 1989, the Poetry Society of America bestowed on her the Frost Medal, its highest honor. She received the National Endowment for the Humanities’ highest honor in 1994, when she was named its Jefferson Lecturer that year. In her lifetime, Brooks was the recipient of more than 70 honorary doctorates and countless accolades.
This prolific poet wrote more than 20 books, including A Street in Bronzeville, Annie Allen, The Bean Eaters, In the Mecca, Blacks, Maud Martha,Report from Part One, and Report from Part Two. In friendships and mentorships, she influenced generations of writers, most notably Haki Madhubuti and other Chicago poets known as the “Jump Badders,” Eugene Redmond and his East St. Louis-based writers club, Etheridge Knight, and Sonia Sanchez.
In 2017, on the 100th anniversary of Brooks’s birth, literature lovers celebrate this centennial and this woman who was known as much for her kindness as for her craft.