Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Poetry Month Begins + Poem: Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn BrooksIt's April 1, which means it's Inter/National Poetry Month! To start off the month, here's a poem by one of my favorite poets, Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), that I find particularly mete for this particular national and global moment. Brooks's poem also brings to mind Langston Hughes's powerful and more bitter take, "A Dream Deferred"; her argument is wittier and more open-ended, a mirror held up to how most of us, most of the time, tend to deal with life's little and sometimes immense adversities.

kitchenette building

We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan,
Grayed in, and gray. “Dream” makes a giddy sound, not strong
Like “rent,” “feeding a wife,” “satisfying a man.”

But could a dream send up through onion fumes
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes
And yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall,
Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms

Even if we were willing to let it in,
Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,
Anticipate a message, let it begin?

We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!
Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,
We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.

Gwendolyn Brooks, “kitchenette building” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1963 by Gwendolyn Brooks. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Gwendolyn Brooks.

Source: Selected Poems (1963)

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