Some of you in Year 12 should be revising your work on Afro-American poetry and in this post I will point you to some information on ‘The Ballad of Rudolph Reed’ by Gwendolyn Brooks. The poem is about a man who has wanted to improve his family’s environment moves into a previously all-white neighborhood. His neighbours are horrified by this intrusion. There is violence, and he is killed. The main feature of the poem is the great yearning of man existing in misery for betterment, and his eventual irresistible reach for it. Here is a little about the poet:
A powerful voice of black consciousness and social protest in mid-century America, Gwendolyn Brooks is among the most distinguished African-American poets of the twentieth century. With the publication of her second volume of poetry, Annie Allen (1949), she became the first black American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize. Noted for her mastery of traditional forms and poignant evocation of urban black experience, Brooks emerged as a leading black literary figure during the 1950s and 1960s. Drawing upon both European models and African-American folk tradition, her lyrical poetry addresses racial injustice, poverty, and the private struggles of young black women with exceptional precision, psychological depth, and authenticity.
“Brooks, Gwendolyn (Vol. 125) – Introduction.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 125. Gale Cengage, 2000