Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.

Raising Awareness Through Poems

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Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks was considered one of the most influential writers. Brooks was an American Poet fighting for equality. Brooks used her works to write about the social injustice she lived in everyday because of her skin color. Brooks grew up in Chicago. We can see this through her works of “A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon” and “The Last Quatrain of the Ballard of Emmett Till”.

Emmet Till

Both of these poems have a common theme. That theme is Emmett Till. Emmett Till was a 14 year old boy who was from the North. Because Emmett was from the North, signifies the importance of the injustice. He was visiting his aunt in Mississippi. While Emmett and his cousins were out, Emmett’s cousins dared him to flirt with a white woman, later known as Carolyn Bryant. Whatever type of flirting was being used is still part of the debate today. Bryant’s husband and half-brother felt the need to intervene that night. They kidnapped Emmett from his bed and brought him to a barn where he was tortured mutilated and then dropped into a body of water. “A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon”, describes the hypothetical thought of Mrs. Bryant after realizing her husband and is a murder:

The fun was disturbed, then all but nullified

When the Dark Villain was a blackish child

Of fourteen, with eyes still too young to be dirty,

And a mouth too young to have lost every reminder

Of its infant softness. (p. 809)

This quote helps us to understand the social injustice that occurred during this event.  The white woman in this poem shows the unrealistic thoughts of a lot people during this time period . The average white person felt superior over any black person no matter how young or old the person of the other race is.

Emmett Till’s body was shipped back to Chicago to his mother. At his funeral he had an open casket which is unheard of when a body has such destruction. Emmett’s mother chooses to do this to help show the injustice. In “The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till”, Mrs. Till says her last goodbyes, “She kisses her killed boy. And she is sorry.” (p. 812).

emmett_till

Brooks choose to write about this piece because the issue speaks for itself. Her poems and the tragedy of Emmett Till were both reasons for the motivation for the Civil Rights Movement.  Brooks is a great writer because she chooses to humanize topics that need attention to be brought to them. The best writers are the most influential.

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