'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 21 May 2020

Review: Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

This picture book biography celebrates the life of Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who was the first African American to win such a prestigious award.

Growing up in Chicago, Gwendolyn enjoyed nothing more than to listen to her father’s love of poetry as he read it to her every night. 

At seven years of age, Gwendolyn was putting her own stories into poems. Drawing upon the colourful clouds and sunsets, the feel of raindrops and the world in general as it moves around her for inspiration. Crossing her fingers, Gwendolyn sends four poems to a newspaper, these were printed and for the first time everyone in her neighbourhood could read her words.

Then The Great Depression arrives and everything in her world changes overnight. Less money, hardly any food, Gwendolyn tries to write many more poems in the hope they are published, but her work is continually rejected. Disillusioned, Gwendolyn retreats into herself all through high school, never really believing she fits in. Only writing poetry makes her feel invincible instead of invisible.

After high school Gwendolyn studies poetry at college, marries her sweetheart and starts a family. All the while taking whatever odd jobs, she could to earn money and continue writing her poetry, even when they turn the electricity off for not paying the bills.

How did Gwendolyn turn her passion into prize winning poetry? How do you measure success when you don’t have enough money to pay the bills?

This enlightening look into the life of Gwendolyn Brooks is one we all should read. It gives us insight into a time where winning wasn’t everything but knowing who you are and embracing your passion is worth everything.

Title: Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
Author: Suzanne Slade
Illustrator: Cozbi A Cabrera
Publisher: Abrams Books, $24.99
Publication Date: 7 April 2020
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781419734113
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Books