The poem we real cool is a piece of poetic work by the poet Gwendolyn Brooks the poem was written back in 1959 but published in 1960 in the book The Bean Eaters, Gwendolyn’s third collection of her poetry .the poem is composed of four stanzas, each made of two rhyming lines which are simply structured. The poet’s background community of urban black life with pool hall boys and she silently wondered how they felt about themselves.This inspired the origin of this poem.
Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was a great African American poet and educator from the mid state of America. Gwendolyn was born on June 1917 in Topeka, Kansas. At a young age of six weeks, she and her parents moved to Chicago where she began her poetic journey at a very tender age, at thirteen she published her first poem in Children’s Magazine. she rose to national fame in her 1945 collection A Street In Bronzeville. Later in 1950, she became the first African American poet to win the Pulitzer Prize and was named the Illinois poet for her work ‘Annie Allen’. Gwendolyn attended the Prestigious, Integrated Hyde Park High School and All Black Wendell Philips Academy for her high education. She attended Junior College and graduated in 1936.Gwendolyn used to work as a secretary for a living. She also taught Colombia Unversity and the University of Wisconsin. Gwendolyn married to Henry Lowington in 1939. She had two children and died on 3rd December 2000 for cancer in her home Chicago, Illinois.
- The poem we real cool
- The Pool Players
- Seven at the Golden Shovel
- We real cool.We
- Left school.We
- Lurk late .We
- Sing sin .We
- Jazz Juice. We
- Die soon.
The poem describes the hardship and desperation of the black African American in their urban life. It describes a bunch of boys seven who are struggling to get make it in life. The poem’s title “The pool players Seven at the Golden Shovel’’ this gives a clue of the youthful men who are at a casino, tavern or so trying to bury problems with a golden shovel. The poem begins with the word ‘We’ but the word is also repeated five other times at the end of each line. This does not only show a confusion but represents the clear uncertainty of the group of the young men in the poem. It shows their fears of failing to achieve their ambitions. The last part of the poem however becomes defiant. The young men become mischevious and they are up to doing no good. Their rebellious and complacent attitudes are pathetic. There is nothing cool with lurking and staying out late, the guys celebrate sinning violence gambling and alcohol.Death also takes them young and termination of their dreams turns to be the alternative of their determination they have been struggling for. As we move down the line, the ‘we’start to represent an individual rather than a group. The unity gradually becomes obscure.
Despite being represented in just a few words, the poem is rich in literary devices. The poem use of symbolism. The title “The Pool Players Seven at the Golden Shovel” is symbolic. The pool players present a group of young men who are rebellious in achieving their dreams. The shovel is used warn the young boys who are digging their own graves. The term golden is symbolic of success, youth and summer time.The sentence is simply structured and use of street dialect. This represents the status of the young boys. There is the use of imagery in the line “We jazz June”. imagery creates a mental picture of people on summer singing and celebrating. The guys live there every day like summer, having fun, celebrating and doing nothing. The poem also uses Irony. ‘shovel ‘ is usually associated with hard and exhaustive manual work. In this poem, the shovel is associated with the seven boys who are lazy and shoulder their success with the luck of gambling.
conclusion, the poem “We Real COOL” though short, is a very powerful poem. It is an insight of the life many youths are living in and sounds a warning to their end lives. Gondowel was perfect this poetic work and she can be considered a pioneer of African-American poems.
Brooks, Gwendolyn. The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks. Library of America, 2005.
Hull, Gloria T., Posey Gallagher, and GWENDOLYN BROOKS. “UPDATE ON” PART ONE”: AN INTERVIEW WITH GWENDOLYN BROOKS.” CLA Journal 21.1 (1977): 19-40. Retrieved from htpp//www.jstor.com
Jimoh, Ph.D., and A. Yemisi. “Gwendolyn Brooks: Biography.” (2001)
Retrieved from htpp//www.scholarworks.umass.edu