Gwendolyn Brooks was celebrated with her own stamp alongside Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, E.E. Cummings, Robert Hayden, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams in 2012.
One of the questions that I had in 2013 was answered recently. The papers of Gwendolyn Brooks have found an archival home at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana. According to The Chicago Tribune, the poet’s daughter Nora Brooks-Blakely had been searching for a home for her mother’s papers since 2002. I had hoped the papers would stay in her beloved Chicago, possibly at Chicago State University on the South Side that she documented and where she lived in all of her life, but they are still in Illinois. Some of her papers were given to University of California-Berkeley in 2001, and apparently Brooks herself was there to make the announcement with Robert Hass.
As the first African American poet to the win the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, Brooks is mentioned in countless critical studies and has been memorialized with a 2012 U.S. Postal Service stamp. There is also a marker for Brooks in Bronzeville, the community she celebrated in her first poetry collection A Street in Bronzeville. For scholars who would like to do deeper critical analyses or more book-length examinations of Brooks’ work, this access opens even more possibilities.
Brooks' 1945 collection A Street in Bronzeville beside a marker for Brooks on Chicago's Bronzeville.
When the posthumous 2003 collection In Montgomery, and Other Poems was released, I found myself wondering what else might be available. Now, there is a chance to expand upon the existing scholarship, even if Brooks does not have her likeness beside Carl Sandburg in The Poetry Garage, a parking structure in the Chicago Loop area.