BADASS WOMEN: GWENDOLYN BROOKS

gwen1

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (1917 –2000) was the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1950 for Annie Allen, the tale of an African American girl’s transition from child to woman as she faces racism, war, death & ultimately falling in love.

Brooks was, like me, a Chicago native. she always wanted to be a poet & didn’t bother going to college because she thought it was unnecessary—to be a writer, she believed (& proved) all you have to do is write. she was already published at thirteen & as a young woman, she created poetry workshops for African American woman in Chicago’s South Side. Brooks helped lead a whole generation of black woman (& white male poets & reviewers) to realize that great poetry is universal & not restricted to any race, gender, age or class.

gwen2

“we are each other’s harvest” reminds me, this holiday season, to be grateful for more than any material possessions I’ve accumulated—it’s the loved ones in my life who are my greatest wealth & bounty.

xo

—Suki

BADASS WOMEN: MAYA ANGELOU

Maya_Angelou_quote

Maya Angelou (1928 –2014) was a woman unafraid to live as boldly as she wrote. throughout her life she worked as a fry cook, opera singer,  journalist, actress, director, civil rights leader, nightclub dancer & yes, a prostitute. of course, she was most famous for her plays, poetry & autobiographical writing.

although she was open about her past & the traumas she suffered, she never let herself be defined by them, or by the gender & racial labels that suffocated so many voices in her time. she won three Grammy awards for her spoken-word albums & her childhood autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings reveals the struggles of growing up black & female in the pre-Civil Rights era to new generations of high school students & other readers across the world.

Maya Angelou’s life was fearlessly far from “normal” & without a doubt amazing!

maya_angelou

xo

—Suki