Thursday, May 16, 2019

Gwendolyn Brooks

Hello FRIDAY! 

It's lovely to see you and all your poems.

Thank you writing inspiration, Margaret Simon, for hosting this week's round-up at Reflections on the Teche

I've been on a Gwendolyn Brooks kick lately.

Join me...

My Brooks fascination began with Michelle Heidenrich Barns' #NationalPoetryMonth Classroom Connections with Alice Faye Duncan

Ms. Duncan is enjoying much deserved success with her exquisite picture books including A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks (Sterling 2019). AND she's a working school librarian--which makes this school librarian's heart skip with happiness.  

Duncan, Alice Faye, and Xia Gordon. A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks. Sterling Children's Books, 2019.

In Michelle's Spotlight interview, Ms. Duncan discussed Brooks' writing. I checked Song out from my local library immediately and met Gwendolyn. I loved seeing how her parents were her first patrons. I cheered as Gwendolyn succeeded and succeeded and succeeded. If you haven't read, A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks yet, please do. You will be much richer for having read it.

Then, what to my wondering eye appears? But, Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderly and Marjory Wentworth checked, back IN to my school library. It was re-shelved...for the tiniest bit before I checked it out myself. 

Alexander's poem in the style of Gwendolyn Brooks on p. 28 caught my could it not? I still had Duncan's lovely Song in my head.
Alexander, Kwame, et al. Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets. Candlewick Press, 2017 (28).

Two weeks ago, Renee LaTulippe and Lee Bennett Hopkins published episode 4 of their History of American Children's Poets of the Twentieth Century: 1950s.  This is a spectacular free video-series of poetry history gems. Check it out!

Guess who was featured? Among others....your'e right...Gwendolyn Brooks. Honestly, it felt like a tap on my shoulder from Gwendolyn herself.  I googled Brooks and found the fabulous article below with more of her children's Brain Pickings

All these meetings with Brooks in her poems and in commentary on her life's work led me to a poetic response to the person and the children's poet.  

Found haiku from, Gwendolyn Brooks's Trailblazing Vintage Poems for Kids, Celebrating Diversity and the Universal Spirit of Childhood


for joy and sorrow
belong in literature

poetic portraits


the tremendous gift
poems for and about children

playful and poignant


many of the poems
connection, darkness and light
beyond childhood

(c) Linda Mitchell

And finally a response in the style of Gwendolyn Brooks' Bronzeville Boys and Girls (Harper Collins 2006):


Gemma’s in the backyard
toes all up in mud
earth worms surround her
on high ground from a flood.

Gemma loves the worms
she talks to them and plays
that they are little children
to mind her little mama-ways.

It’s getting on toward dinner
today's sun is sinking low
Gemma gently scoops up worms
and rocks them to and fro.

She sings a goodnight worm song
a sweepy tune for sleep
tucking worms in drier dirt
then runs inside on muddy feet.

(c) Linda Mitchell


  1. What a wonderful rich Gwendolyn Brooks post. I'll come back to it again. Your poems reflect her spirit of observation and a strong beat. Love the Gemma poem with worms in the mud!

  2. I want to dwell here in the potency of

    - two new books celebrating a literary lion of this nation (including an author new to me)
    - your serendipity with poet Gwendolyn Brooks
    - the potency of your poems

    I am especially draw to the idea that both
    "joy and sorrow
    belong in literature
    poetic portraits"

    Appreciations for this brilliant post dear Linda.

  3. Gwendolyn Brooks sure has been talking to you! I'm so glad you didn't ignore her invitation to visit and then shared your many encounters with us. I love the rhythm and mood of "Gemma." What a wonderful post. I'll look forward to checking out the links later when I can enjoy them at my leisure.

  4. You and I were on the same page this week. My poetry friday post features A Song For Gwendolyn Brooks :) Love the imagery and personality of Gemma.

    1. Oh, that's so cool! I'm headed over to see whatcha got!

  5. I've read and loved the things you shared, LInda. Before those books I didn't know very much about her, but amazing that at 33, she won the Pulitzer Prize. Your inspiration from her ended in beauty of your own. I loved the 'found' haiku, showing the heart of her poems, & then you wrote that rhythmic poem from her & Kwame's work, a wonderful response. I love the idea of the outdoor play, singing a goodnight worm song". Thanks for sharing so much.

  6. I will need to get the book and read more. I loved your found haiku from her poems. And isn’t the poem in Kwame’s Book amazing. Loved you response especially the first stanza. I love toes in the mud

  7. Love love love this post!! Your poetic responses are fabulous, and thanks for sharing Kwame's poem too. I need to read A Song for GB, and much more of her poetry!

  8. I have long been a fan of her poetry. Your found haiku and "Gemma" are exceptional! Thank you for this lovely, inspiring post!

  9. How wonderful, Linda! I'm thrilled that my interview with Alice Faye got the ball rolling for you, because look what's come of it! Such inspiring poems and explorations. LOVE "Gemma"!

  10. Linda, I read your post a couple of days ago and was thrilled to listen to the story of Gemma, a gem of a tale. I love the childhood tale of play with its lyrical quality and rhythm. The found poem, haiku sequence provides a glimpse into the power of poetry for children to bring the joy that you mention. Great job!

  11. What a wonderful post! Thank you, Linda, for sharing all these resources. I've seen the Brain Pickings post, but haven't gotten around to reading it, so I will head there next. Your poems are terrific. I especially love "a sweepy tune for sleep."

  12. "Little mama-ways" -- sweet description (and that "goodnight worm song"!)
    Thanks for sharing your enthusiasms with us! I love to see where they take you.

  13. Oh my. So much! I particularly love the worm love you are spreading around. My little Kinders have plenty of opportunity to explore worms with all the crazy rain we are having. They are everywhere! What lucky worms to have Gemma loving them so much! -- Christie @

  14. I just picked up a collection of Gwendolyn Brooks from my library and am savouring each one. Thanks so much for these poems here and for the heads up about this introduction to her as a person. I'm happy my local library has it on order.


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!