from "An Interview with Gwendlyn Brooks" in Artful Dodge
Steve Cape: Having heard you read several times, the readings seem a lot different from
seem more immediate or real to you than printed or written poetry?
Brooks: No. In fact, you might be surprised to know I have a visual appreciation for
give whoever is listening an impression of how I felt when I wrote the piece. I try to
with in the poems?
Brooks: No. I never really investigated mythology. My daughter enjoyed so much reading Bulfinch’s
Mythology, which we always had in the house but which I never read myself. I’m sure
but I have not tried that.
immediately so I won’t forget or loose my inspiration.
initial phrase or an idea, no matter when it was–if it was two in the morning–that he’d
American poets have been thoroughly brainwashed into believing that what has already been
published is it!
Writing, Detroit: Broadside Press, 1975] you comment on poetry being a transient
for posterity or for something that will be permanent.
Brooks: That does not express what I have been doing; whatever I said to that effect
was about those black poets in the late sixties, some of whom, not all but some of whom
felt that black poetry shouldn’t be written with an eye to posterity billions and
poem had done what the poet wanted it to feel–again not all–feel that they do want to be
read thousands of years from now. I’m afraid that I’m weak enough to think that it would
out of poems I’m writing today.
SC: Another thing from Black Poetry Writing that I’d like to get a comment on.
You broke black poetry down into three stages, a first stage that was a statement of
more an assertive, positive, individualistic thing.
"express myself" stage, because I was writing about anything and everything in
my environment just because I wanted to express myself–flailing about. And second, my
"integration flavoring" stage when I wrote a lot of poems which I hoped would
bring black people and white people and all people together, and they didn’t seem to be
poetry written by blacks, about blacks, and to black," and then, I’m trying very
seriously now to create for myself, develop for myself a kind of poem that will be
immediately accessible and interesting, immediately interesting, to all manner of blacks,
not just college students though they’re included too. That kind of poem will feature
song, will be songlike, and yet still properly called poetry.
SC: Is that where you–?
Brooks: Are now.
think are going to be developed?
Brooks: I believe that events will dictate what turns black poetry takes next. A lot of
black poetry is being written now that seems to be interior poetry, poetry that goes
deeper into the interior to explore, but I believe that the writing concern will be coming
back outdoors just as soon as some things become blatantly obvious. A lot of stuff is
happening now that I believe will involve us all, and the poets, their writing, will
reflect what they’re experiencing, just as it did in the late 60’s.
SC: What would a few of these things be?
Brooks: Well, I’m sure your imagination can help you there–when you look at the
get over there and drop a few bombs (laughter).
SC: Everything getting more conservative….
Brooks: Well, I think that is what has been happening, but Conservatism can
go–look, I’m no sociologist but at least I think I can say this–Conservatism goes just
so far and then there’s a reaction against it, wouldn’t you agree to that? At least that’s
what’s been happening so far and I don’t expect the future to be much different. I do know
that the people, the blacks on the African continent, don’t seem inclined to lie down.
They’re getting fiercer and fiercer, and more and more interested in protecting
themselves. I don’t expect that to have a reverse. If you just let your imagination so
you’ll see that we’re in for some very lively poetry.
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