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By Darcel Rockett
Poet. Teacher. Mentor. All are words synonymous with Gwendolyn Brooks.
Born in Topeka, Kan., in 1917, Brooks made her name as a poet in Chicago. A Bronzeville resident, she grew up writing — writing about what she saw and heard in the street. In 1950, she was catapulted to national prominence when her second book of poetry, “Annie Allen,” won a Pulitzer Prize. At the time, her community was a dense hotbed for African-American art and music.
She is the subject of a new play, “No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks,” which will be staged in three performances this weekend at the Harold Washington Library Center. Produced by Manual Cinema, a Chicago-based company known for theater works combining live action and projections, “No Blue Memories” was written by Eve Ewing and Nate Marshall, both of Young Chicago Authors fame, from a commission by the Poetry Foundation.
The play touches on her character, love of language and a legacy that has never dimmed. “No Blue Memories” combines intricate paper puppetry, live actors working in shadow and an original score to create a unique multimedia experience that gives the audience glimpses of her greatness — glimpses anchored by what has come to be known as the “golden shovel,” a poetic form she has passed on to newer generations. See Tribune for full story