Back Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks on the back steps of her home in Chicago in 1960. (Slim Aarons/Getty Images)

Major works:
A Street in BronzevilleAnnie AllenThe Bean EatersIn the MeccaRiot • “We Real Cool”

“Gwendolyn Brooks is our beginning, in-between, and period. Her work represents a full view of her people, not always accommodating or elegant, but always abundant with love and necessary tomorrows.”
—Haki R. Madhubuti

“And how Miss Brooks did this thing called language. How she made us all look down the corridors of our birth. How she wore the rhythm of her name wide on green rivers of change. How she fashioned poems for us all from this bamboo wilderness called America. How she moved from city to city, restringing her words so we could live and breathe and smile and breathe and love and breathe her. This Gwensister called life.”
—Sonia Sanchez

Read the poem

The Bean Eaters

Gwendolyn Brooks

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room
     that is full of beads and receipts and dolls and
     cloths, tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

Read a passage from The Bean Eaters by Gwendolyn Brooks
Library of America

A champion of America’s great writers and timeless works, Library of America guides readers in finding and exploring the exceptional writing that reflects the nation’s history and culture.

Learn More

From poetry, novels, and memoirs to journalism, crime writing, and science fiction, the more than 300 volumes published by Library of America are widely recognized as America’s literary canon.

Browse our books Subscribe

With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come.

Support our mission