June 7, 2017
Today is the centenary of the renowned poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Born in 1917 in Topeka, Kansas, her family moved to Chicago when she was six weeks old. She spent most of the rest of her life in the city, and her first published collection of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville, took its title from one of Chicago's most prominent African American neighborhoods. In 1950 she became the first black author to receive the Pulitzer Prize, for her collection Annie Allen. She served as Poet Laureate of Illinois from 1968 until her death in 2000, and was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress in 1985, making her the first black woman to hold that position, which later became the U.S. Poet Laureate.
In 1966, WTTW produced a half-hour program on Brooks in which she discusses her work and life and reads some of her poems. In these excerpts she talks about her preferred subject matter and reads the poems "Beverly Hills Chicago" and "The Ballad of Rudolph Reed."