Cover image for A life of Gwendolyn Brooks
A life of Gwendolyn Brooks
Kent, George E., 1920-1982.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, 1989.
Physical Description:
viii, 287 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3503.R7244 Z73 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3503.R7244 Z73 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS3503.R7244 Z73 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3503.R7244 Z73 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

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This study, by a personal friend and literary associate, locates Brooks within the context of the Harlem Renaissance, the Chicago literary scene, historical developments in black culture and consciousness, and the significant figures and activities that impressed the poet's life and art. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Kent's biography of Brooks functions as a fine biocritical investigation of the black American poet's life and work. The book was finished in 1982 at the time of Kent's death, and no attempt has been made to cover Brooks' career after 1978 (an afterword by D. H. Melhem briefly updates the Brooks chronology after that date). Otherwise, this is a complete, informed, and sympathetic portrayal of Brooks as a personality and writer. Interviews with Brooks and her family and friends and access to the poet's notebooks help to lend a high degree of authority and intimacy to the portrait, while Kent's numerous allusions to Brook's works serve to connect her life and her writing with revealing detail. Notes, bibliography; to be indexed. --John Brosnahan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Completed shortly before the death of University of Chicago professor Kent, this major study of Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks ends with the death of her mother in 1978. Based on interviews, correspondence and the poet's private notebooks, the biography examines the change in her verse from the formality and traditionalism of her early work to the later inclusion of ordinary speech, loose rhythms and communal reference points that won her a mass audience. Also noted is Brooks's identification and solidarity with the black struggle and the consequences of blacks' ``strangerhood'' in America. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This long-awaited volume by the late George Kent is the first full-scale biography of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Kent carefully chronicles Brooks's aesthetic and political development in relation to familial and literary influences, the Chicago arts community, and the civil rights and black nationalist movements. Brooks is dramatically and critically portrayed as an artist struggling to create a style that reflects the particularities of her own and other black Americans' experiences while conveying a greater universalism in black life and literature. Her achievements as a critic, teacher, speaker, philanthropist, and activist are also emphasized. Enriched by generous quotes from Brooks's early notebooks, as well as anecdotes from the poet, her family, and her friends, this book will be enjoyed by anyone interested in Brooks or American poetry.-- Deborah Gussman, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, N.J. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This first full-scale biography of the brilliant black poet Gwendolyn Brooks by the late George E. Kent (1920-1982) considers both Brooks's personal and poetic development, with emphasis on the latter. Kent discusses her Chicago upbringing and current residence, her marriage to Henry Blakely, their two children, their separation and later reconciliation. Brooks is Poet Laureate of Illinois and a 1950 Pulitzer Prize winner, has taught in various schools, and has become involved with and encouraged young black writers. In the '60s and '70s her poetry reflected her increasing interest and involvement in black history and the black civil rights struggles. Kent gives examples of Brooks's astonishingly skilled poetry written at age 14 and offers both positive and negative criticism of her published work: one novel, Maud Martha (1953); her autobiography, Report from Part One (CH, Jun'73); and such poetry books as Annie Allen (1949), The Bean Eaters (1960), and We Real Cool (1966). She is still writing. Kent traces in some detail Brooks's careful consideration of the content and arrangement of her poems in collections. If Kent's style at times uses awkward passives and is imprecise, on balance his dispassionate yet admiring approach reveals much about the poetry if not the woman. Very highly recommended for black studies and literature collections in all libraries. Contains a foreword and afterword by D.H. Melhem, bibliography, index, and notes; no photos. -J. Overmyer, The Ohio State University