top of page

Gwendolyn Brooks Part 4 of 15 Black Authors

But I Remember by The Writer

So often, things don’t work out.

Our brows are furrowed and our lips a pout.

The sky seems gloomy, even when the sun does shine.

Our intent for words tough but still comes out a whine.

But, I remember a woman once said

When life gets tough, look to the road ahead.

Everything is not what it seems; don’t dwell on mistakes you’ve made.

When life gives you lemons, make a tall glass of lemonade.

Sugar them up to be bittersweet

Smile at life and say, “I can’t be beat.”

The devil is a lie, and truth be told.

These lemons I have are life’s true gold.

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was born on June 7, 1917, in Topeka, Kansas, and the literary world would never be the same. Brooks moved to Chicago with her family as an infant and found her inspiration to write, declaring never to move from Chicago because of the many storylines it provided her.

Brooks was constantly inspired by her mother, who was a school teacher. Brooks’ mother encouraged her to write and told her that she might become the female Paul Lawrence Dunbar. By the age of thirteen, Brooks had published her first poem in the “American Childhood” magazine.

Brooks would never earn a college degree because she felt that she did not need it to write, and she was correct. Brooks would associate herself with the likes of Langston Hughes and other great writers of her time and attend workshops to hone her skill.

Brooks would be the first African-American to earn a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry with her collection called “Annie Allan.” Brooks would become the Poet Laureate of Illinois and would go on to publish only one novel in her lifetime, “Maude Martha.”

Teaching at the University of Chicago proved to be a rewarding experience, and one that Brooks would say encouraged her to want to share writing and poetry for the rest of her life. Teaching would become an integral part of her career, and she would go on to teach at Chicago State University, Northeastern Illinois University, and Columbia College, to name a few.

In 1968 Brooks would be honored with the position of Illinois Poet Laureate, where she would serve until her death.

1988 Brooks would be the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony at Hillcrest High School, where she would encourage the class to make lemonade out of lemons instead of becoming bitter about life’s twists and turns.

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks died of cancer in her home on December 3, 2000.

Notable Works

Remembering Gwendolyn Brooks is like sipping lemonade on a hot July day in the middle of the afternoon.

The Writer

References: An interview with Gwendolyn Brooks. (2012, October 15). Retrieved December 31, 2020, from

Share this:


bottom of page