Gwendolyn Brooks Captures Chicago 'Cool'

Poet Gwendolyn Brooks in Chicago

Gwendolyn Brooks spoke with public radio host Henry Lyman about two of her famous poems. The Pulitzer-prize winning poet is shown here in Chicago in 1972. Bettmann/Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Bettmann/Corbis

Gwendolyn Brooks' best-known work tells the chilling life stories of seven young men in eight short lines.

She took her inspiration for "Seven at the Golden Shovel/The Pool Players" from a pool hall in her native Chicago.

The young pool players she describes see themselves as "cool." They dodge school for other pursuits, summed up in the memorable phrase "we jazz June." But ultimately, Brooks predicts, their dubious bravado will cost them dearly.

Brooks was one of many poets who visited with Henry Lyman during the nearly 20 years Lyman hosted a public radio program called Poems to a Listener on member station WFCR in Amherst, Mass.

They discussed "Seven at the Golden Shovel" and her famous sonnet "The Rites for Cousin Vit" during a wide-ranging conversation.

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