Inspired By Inaugural Poets

I will never forget the day I heard Gwendolyn Brooks read her poem, “We Real Cool”. I was one of 300 elementary school kids seated in an auditorium. It was so dark that I could hardly see my hands, which I had tucked between my knees and the red velvet seat. Ms. Brooks stood behind a wooden lectern, at the center of the stage. A yellow spotlight pasted her to the red velvet curtain behind her. From my seat, she looked tiny. But when she began to speak, I froze in my seat. “We REAL cool, We…” With the power of her words and her voice, this tiny woman held 300 school children firmly in her grasp.

More than thirty years later, I can still hear her reading in my head. I recall that she took a long pause after the second “We” of the first line. I can see her on the stage, standing in the yellow spotlight. I can feel the thick silence in the auditorium. I would love to return to those precious moments in the darkened auditorium. I would love to hear that booming voice again. I would love to have my children seated beside me, and I would hope they would love it as much as I did thirty some years ago – and still do.

Art = emotion = life = love = essence of humanity = Art = ? Or something like that.


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