It’s a short poem but it’s also one of Gwendolyn Brooks‘ (pardon the pun) coolest. “We Real Cool,” published in her 1960 book The Bean Eaters, is a 1959 poem by our 1969 winner for fiction. (Got all that?) In this quick clip she explains why she wrote it.
“I wrote it because I was passing by a poll hall in my community one afternoon during school time and I saw therein a bunch of boys…and they were shooting pool,” Brooks said. “Instead of asking myself, “Why aren’t they in school?” I asked myself, I wonder how they feel about themselves.”
Take a listen.