Gwendolyn Brooks was a major American poet of the twentieth century, and a writer of great formal mastery and intimate observation. The author of twenty separate volumes of poetry, including the celebrated A Street in Bronzeville (1945), the Pulitzer Prize-winning Annie Allen (1949), and In the Mecca (1968), as well as the experimental novel Maude Martha (1953) and other volumes of prose and collected verse, Brooks is a writer who “managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young black militant writers of the 1960s” (George E. Kent). Join us to commemorate her work and legacy.
Presented as a part of Our Miss Brooks 100 with the Poetry Society of America, the Barnard Center for Research on Women, and the Columbia Heyman Center for the Humanities.
About the Speakers
Jericho Brown is the recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts. His first book, Please (New Issues, 2008), won the American Book Award, and his second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon, 2014), was named one of the best poetry books of the year by Library Journal. His poems have appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The Best American Poetry.
Brown earned a PhD from the University of Houston, an MFA from the University of New Orleans, and a BA from Dillard University. He is an assistant professor in the creative writing program at Emory University in Atlanta.
Rigoberto Gonzalez was born in Bakersfield, California and raised in Michoacán, Mexico. He is the author of several poetry books, including So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks (1999), a National Poetry Series selection; Other Fugitives and Other Strangers (2006); Black Blossoms (2011); and Unpeopled Eden (2013), winner of a Lambda Literary Award. He has also written two bilingual children’s books, Soledad Sigh-Sighs (2003) and Antonio’s Card (2005); the novel Crossing Vines (2003), winner of ForeWord Magazine’s Fiction Book of the Year Award; and a memoir, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa (2006); and a book of stories Men without Bliss (2008).
González earned a BA from the University of California, Riverside and graduate degrees from University of California, Davis and Arizona State University. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, and of various international artist residencies, González writes a Latino book column for the El Paso Times of Texas. In 2014, he was awarded the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize by the Academy of American Poets. He is contributing editor for Poets & Writers, on the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle, and on the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/Latino activist writers.
González lives in New York City and teaches at the MFA writing programs of both Queens College and Rutgers University—Newark. He has also written for The National Book Critics Circle’s blog, Critical Mass; and the Poetry Foundation’s blog Harriet.
Erica Hunt is a poet, an essayist, a scholar, and an organizer. She earned her BA from San Francisco State University and her MFA from Bennington College. She is the author of the collaborative text Arcade (1996), which she worked on with artist Alison Saar. Her other collections of poetry include Local History (1993; expanded and republished 2003), Piece Logic (2002), and the chapbook Time Slips Right Before Your Eyes (2006). Associated with Language poetry, Hunt draws on critical race theory, history, jazz, and experiences of the everyday in her work. In an artist’s statement for the Foundation for Contemporary Arts she writes, “As is true with many poets, I am drawn to language for its music, for language’s capacity to limn thought, its connection to experience, its power to still and magnify the world while one writes/reads the world/book. But equally, I have been interested in techniques that purposely unsettle the crisp ride and appropriate shade of register and vocabulary. I like to read or write to topple the balance between controlled allusion and opacity. And so I have been drawn to the disjunctions of surrealism, Oulippians, improvisers and scat cats as aesthetic methods to seek new and unsuspected connection. This makes it sound like too tranquil an operation: I write poems that teeter on the verge of legibility, blur private and public, set boundaries anew and implicate us as practitioners of this moment and the next.”
Hunt’s essays, including “Notes for an Oppositional Poetics” (1990) and “Reflections on the Black Avant-Garde” (2002), are well-known and influential. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, including In the American Tree (2002) and Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Ten Years of Cave Canem (2006). She is the recipient of honors and awards from the Fund for Poetry and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and fellowships from the Duke University/University of Cape Town Fellowship in Public Policy and the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a fellow in poetics and poetic practice. She has taught at Wesleyan University.
Darryl Pinckney is a novelist, essayist and playwright. He published his first novel, High Cotton, in 1992. He premiered the play Time Rocker in 1995. He is a frequent contributor to Slate, The New York Review of Books, and The Nation.
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