Illinois History Minutes

February 11 Illinois History Minute


The poet Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka Kansas, but her family moved to Chicago when she was still a baby. And she said the city shaped her as a writer.

Brooks wrote about the Black experience in poems like “Kitchenette Building”, which she recorded here, comparing the dream of escaping poverty to the exhausting grind of day-to-day life for a poor family.

BROOKS: “We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan,

Grayed in and gray. “Dream” makes a giddy sound, not strong

Like “rent,” “feeding a wife,” “satisfying a man.”

A Pulitzer Prize winner, and Illinois Poet Laureate, Gwendolyn Brooks wrote poetry throughout the 20th Century, and taught extensively at colleges, mostly in her hometown of Chicago, although she herself never went beyond junior college.