February 8, 2017
Gwendolyn Brooks would never have called herself a food writer. The Pulitzer-prize winner was one of the most decorated poets in American history. She published 75 poems before the age of 16, and was Poet Laureate of Illinois for 32 years.
She wrote only one novel, but it contains one of the most arresting descriptions of cooking that I know.
Brooks was part of the great migration; when she was six weeks old her parents packed up their Kansas life and moved the family north to Chicago. Having escaped Jim Crow she became part of the Chicago Black Renaissance, getting to know great writers like Langston Hughes. Brooks returned the favor, mentoring many young poets. Among her many students were poets Sonia Sanchez, Don L. Lee and Nikki Giovanni (not to mention members of the street gang, the Blackstone Rangers).
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