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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

14. Becoming Visible

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
- Author
- Context
- Creative Response
- PBL Projects

Activities: Author Activities

Gwendolyn Brooks - Author Questions

Back Back to Gwendolyn Brooks Activities
  1. Comprehension: Reread "The White Troops Had Their Orders But the Negroes Looked Like Men." What is the "formula" in the first line? To what might a "box for dark men and a box for other" allude?

  2. Comprehension: "A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon" is a long and unusual title for a long poem. In the poem, details from ordinary life, northern and southern, are interspersed with meditations on the perils of growing up black in America. What holds the poem together? What is the effect of the changes in pace and focus? Why do the lines grow briefer at the very end? You might compare the mixture of the ordinary and meditative here with Romare Bearden's use of magazine and newspaper images in canonical settings.

  3. Comprehension: What is the controlling tone of "We Real Cool"?

  4. Context: What do Brooks's poems suggest about the special challenges of being an African American poet in a time when many other genres and media compete for attention? What do her poems suggest about the challenges of being a poet who deals with social and moral problems? How does poetry, in Brooks's hands, become an effective means for observing and teaching?

  5. Exploration: Brooks's poetry shows the influences of many writers: Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, Claude McKay, Elizabeth Bishop, William Carlos Williams, and the Beats, to name a few. Which of her poems particularly recall the work of one or more of these forebears? Within those poems, what stylistic experiments or other strategies make the work uniquely her own?

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