We Real Cool

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"We Real Cool", by Gwendolyn Brooks can be regarded as one of the most influential poems for the black community in the 1960's. Brooks displays intense passion within the poem. If the reader does not feel the black struggle within the poem, they should read it again. Brooks wrote this poem at the peak of the black oppression in America. Blacks in America were not giving voting rights, and basically were second class citizens. Many blacks felt as though school could not help them in a system that was designed for them to fail. Brooks wrote this poem in an effort to stimulate some change, and black empowerment. Brooks was born on June 7, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas. Shortly after, her family moved to Chicago, which proved to have a major influence. Chicago gave her a different perspective on racial issues. Brooks believes that the environment which African Americans live in creates their struggles with poverty and failure.

Brooks portrays the life of seven ordinary teenage high school dropouts. In "We Real Cool" she wrote the poem in only eight short lines. Every word is one syllable. It contains alliteration in the words, Strike Straight and Jazz June. The rhythm within the poem is spondaic, which is one unstressed and two stressed. The word "We", begins and ends each line excluding the last. The "We's" are tiny, wispy, and weakly argumentative. Critic Katherine V. Lindberg stated, "The simple, but strong and regular rhythm, reinforced by the nonstandard grammar, creates a sense of energy and aggressive physical power." The first stanza has more meaning than one would think, according to critic Gary Smith. Smith states the number "seven" signifies the teenagers luck as pool players, "golden" implies youthful arrogance. However, "shovel" reminds the reader of death and burial. Brooks gives the reader insight into the life of a teenage high school dropout. These pool players think they are "cool", but have no education and nothing going for them. Brooks wanted to...
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