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A look back at the cultural and political force of Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, in celebration of her hundredth birthday


Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the great American literary icons of the twentieth century, a protégé of Langston Hughes and mentor to a generation of poets, including Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Elizabeth Alexander.

Her poetry took inspiration from the complex portraits of black American life she observed growing up on Chicago’s Southside—a world of kitchenette apartments and vibrant streets. From the desk in her bedroom, as a child she filled countless notebooks with poetry, encouraged by the likes of Hughes and affirmed by Richard Wright, who called her work “raw and real.”

Over the next sixty years, Brooks’s poetry served as witness to the stark realities of urban life: the evils of lynching, the murders of Emmett Till and Malcolm X, the revolutionary effects of the civil rights movement, and the burgeoning power of the Black Arts Movement. Critical acclaim and the distinction in 1950 as the first black person ever awarded a Pulitzer Prize helped solidify Brooks as a unique and powerful voice.

Now, in A Surprised Queenhood in the New Black Sun, fellow Chicagoan and award-winning writer Angela Jackson delves deep into the rich fabric of Brooks’s work and world. Granted unprecedented access to Brooks’s family, personal papers, and writing community, Jackson traces the literary arc of this artist’s long career and gives context for the world in which Brooks wrote and published her work. It is a powerfully intimate look at a once-in-a-lifetime talent up close, using forty-three of Brooks’s most soul-stirring poems as a guide.

From trying to fit in at school (“Forgive and Forget”), to loving her physical self (“To Those of My Sisters Who Kept Their Naturals”), to marriage and motherhood (“Maud Martha”), to young men on her block (“We Real Cool”), to breaking history (“Medgar Evers”), to newfound acceptance from her community and her elevation to a “surprising queenhood” (“The Wall”), Brooks lived life through her work.

Jackson deftly unpacks it all for both longtime admirers of Brooks and newcomers curious about her interior life. A Surprised Queenhood in the New Black Sun is a commemoration of a writer who negotiated black womanhood and incomparable brilliance with a changing, restless world—an artistic maverick way ahead of her time.
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2015 PEN Open Book Award Finalist

Angela Jackson’s latest collection of poetry borrows its title from a lyric in Barbara Lewis’s 1963 hit single “Hello Stranger,” recorded at Chess Records in Chicago. Like the song, Jackson’s poems are a melodic ode to the African American experience, informed by both individual lives and community history, from the arrival of the first African slave in Virginia in 1619 to post-Obama America.

It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time reflects the maturity of Jackson’s poetic vision. The Great Migration, the American South, and Chicago all serve as signposts, but it is the complexity of individual lives—both her own and those who have gone before, walk beside, and come after—that invigorate this collection. Upon surveying so vast a landscape, Jackson finds that sorrow meets delight, and joy lifts up anger and despair. And for all this time, love is the agent, the wise and just rule and guide.

Latest News

  • Motorcycle club makes changes after two deadly shootings

    03/23/17 ,via WPXI Pittsburgh

    PITTSBURGH - A Homewood motorcycle club plans to make changes after two people connected to it were killed over the weekend. The New Brotherhood Motorcycle Club said in a statement that it will permanently close its clubhouse and will no longer have 

  • Boat access still planned at Brown's Mill

    03/24/17 ,via The Daily News Journal

    “Brown's Mill is not currently open for public access, but has been identified as a potential future access site as a part of the Murfreesboro Blueway System,” said Angela Jackson, director of Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department. Like a


RT @ahsleak: Today is the AHS panel at PaleyFest. Sarah, Kathy, Angela, Denis O'Hare, Adina Porter, Cuba Gooding and Cheyenne Jackson will… 03/26/17, @jeandelgrey
RT @ahsleak: Today is the AHS panel at PaleyFest. Sarah, Kathy, Angela, Denis O'Hare, Adina Porter, Cuba Gooding and Cheyenne Jackson will… 03/26/17, @beth_kmitch


Bing news feed

  • State Tournament notes: Young finishes sixth on county scoring list

    03/25/17 ,via Canton Repository

    Jackson eliminated Hoover in the district championship game ... St. Vincent-St. Mary (Division II), Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Division III) and Cleveland Heights Lutheran East (Division IV).

  • Winners announced in Mississippi-Louisiana AP Competition

    03/25/17 ,via The Miami Herald

    Editorials: First, Jackson Free Press; Second ... Multimedia Story: First, Eric Walker, JSU-TV, "Medical Drones"; Second, Angela Williams, WAPT-TV; Third, WLOX-TV, "Unity Rally." Documentary: First, Jerome DeLoach and Howard Ballou, WLBT-TV, "Autograph ...

  • Albion softball loses games in Ohio

    03/25/17 ,via MLive

    Game 2 Angela Hoffsis collected two of Albion's three hits. Bluffton scored five times in the third and it added runs in the fifth and sixth innings.


Angela Jackson Profiles | Facebook

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Angela Jackson

ANGELA JACKSON. Angela Jackson is an award-winning writer, represented by United Agents, a tutor and workshop facilitator. A former psychology lecturer, Angela ...

Angela Jackson - Wikipedia

Life. Angela Jackson was born in Greenville, Mississippi, the fifth of nine children, but grew up on the South Side of Chicago, where her father, George Jackson, Sr ...

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View the profiles of professionals named Angela Jackson on LinkedIn. There are 1,406 professionals named Angela Jackson, who use LinkedIn to exchange ...

Angela Jackson of Tarrant County, Texas on Wed Jun 15, 2016 | Fort ...

Angela Jackson of Tarrant County, Texas on Wed Jun 15, 2016 | Fort ...

Angela Jackson Mugshot | 03/15/16 Texas Arrest

Angela Jackson Mugshot | 03/15/16 Texas Arrest

Angela Jackson | LinkedIn

Angela Jackson | LinkedIn

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