by Gwendolyn Brooks

Page 1

I was told, "Ms. Brooks will be participating in a program with other woman poets celebrating Emily Dickinson." And it certainly is my pride to be anywhere in the neighborhood of Adrienne Rich. I'm really proud to be included in such company.

My mother's name was Keziah, Keziah. I always wished that she had named me Keziah instead of Gwendolyn, which is such a fancy-sounding name. I named my daughter "Nora." N-O-R-A. Simple and clean and direct and easy and quick to say. I'm going to offer one, two, three, four woman-oriented poems. Then I'm afraid I'm going to mention a boy and then seven boys, and then all of us, and then I'll be closing with a poem addressed to young people in general. Well, the first woman-oriented poem, or at least it was written by a woman, a woman of twelve, not myself, is by Aurelia Davidson, who entered this poem in my Illinois poet laureate competition in Chicago. I had to give this poem a prize because I felt it was such a clear note of warmth-oriented and honesty-oriented poetry. She called her poem "Trapped":

I am trapped,
because I am black
"Let me out," I say.
But the white man say
I turn, I turn,
but who am I?
I walk I walk
but who am I
I am a little black girl
but will I get out?
I say.
I look, I learn, and I sing
and I dance and
out I come
from the past.

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