We Real Cool: Poetry Explication
“We Real Cool” is a poem written by Gwendolyn Brooks in 1959, and published in her book The Bean Eaters (We Real Cool, pg 1). A simple and light poem, “We Real Cool” is vague enough to allow readers to visualize their own characters and setting, but specific enough to keep a consistent rebellious image. Brook’s attitude toward the characters is undecided, as the tone is neither tragic nor victorious, but more so just balanced and neutral.
“We Real Cool” is written from the perspective of the involved fictional characters. It is as if the reader is in the presence of these characters as they introduce themselves. They speak with confidence and defiance, describing their actions and self-ideals in a rhythmic stanza form. We are not presented with any specific character ethnicities or backgrounds, nor year or time, but we are provided a fictional setting of a place called The Golden Shovel.
Containing only ten sentences, “We Real Cool” begins with the line, The Pool Players. With this line, we are able to imagine the type of characters we will be following. The assumptions are, there will be alcohol and cigarettes involved, as those are typical stereotypes when thinking about pool halls. The second line within the same stanza is, Seven at The Golden Shovel. From this line we are able to assume or imagine that there are a total of seven characters involved in the scene. With just these two simple lines composed of simple words, imagery is created in order to set the stage for the next stanzas.
Moving into the body of “We Real Cool”, Brooks begins each sentence with the word, We, making it a point that the narrator comprises of multiple people, specifically the seven pool players. The first line to begin the second stanza is, We real cool. This not only states the title of the poem, but also sets the intellectual level of the seven pool players....