Too often Brooks's poetry is divided into discrete sections rather than considered a continually developing, cohesive body of work. Most frequently, her early poetry, with its intense experimentation in traditional poetic forms, is the material anthologized and critically explored, and her poetry written after 1967, a line Brooks herself drew and critics reinforced, is neglected. However, there are also critics who prefer her later poetry and who call the early poetry "traditional," "accommodationist," or "white" (Clark 85). In contrast, as I read Brooks's early poetry, I find that it, like her later poetry, responds to what she sees happening in the arts and in politics--it is all politically informed. (4) Like the poems of Langston Hughes, Brooks's work evolves, and her interest in the connection between race and violence is clear both before and after 1967, as is her continual experimentation with form. Her poetry develops; it does not suddenly become "black" after the Fisk Conference, nor does the latter half of her work lack integrity by becoming too simplistic in its form.
06 October 2006
more on Gwendolyn Brooks
Poet Jilly Dybka has linked to my earlier post and offers a link to Annette Debo's thoughtful reading of Brooks's work, e.g.: