Poet Gwendolyn Brooks gets her own stamp

April 28, 2012

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(Photo courtesy of U.S. Postal Service)
The late Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks has her own postage stamp now.

The famous Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks is now immortal in a tiny format. The U.S. Postal Service recently issued a stamp in her honor.

Gwendolyn Brooks takes her place on a sheet of stamps along with nine other poets. Brooks was a prolific poet and author who became the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize. She went on to win many other awards, including becoming poetry consultant to the Library of Congress and Illinois Poet Laureate.

She is known for creating urban portraits with her words, and she often took on political and social themes. She experimented with many forms of verse.

Brooks is also known for mentoring many poets, including Quraysh Ali Lansana, a professor and former director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University.

Lansana on Brooks' legacy, and what it was like to be her mentee:

 

 

Lansana says there's not enough study or recognition of Brooks' work.

"If this stamp will introduce, in some way, folks who aren't familiar or who aren't familiar enough with Gwendolyn Brooks and her work, perhaps it will encourage them to pick up a book, read a book, to understand why she remained significant," he said.

One of Brooks' early mentees, Haki Madhubuti, went on to become her friend and confidante. Madhubuti is the founder of CSU's Gwendolyn Brooks Center and the Third World Press, which published many books of Brooks' poetry.

In an excerpt from one of his poems about her, Madhubuti described Brooks this way:

This poet
This kind and gentle person
Her religion is kindness
Her work is sharing and making words matter...
Rooted willingly and firmly in dark soil
She is last of the great oaks
Name her poet
As it does us
Her language needs to blanket the earth
Ms. Brooks

The Chicago Post Office is dedicating the stamps locally at noon Saturday during Poetry Fest at the Harold Washington Library Center.