Gwendolyn Brooks Illinois State
Library: The Naming, June 6, 2003
your ancestry is book country,
able bones crossing the atlantic ocean to discover
white pages, protein and protégé in the midland.
in my first days of learning I remember eyeglasses that joined
I recall your fingers, long, thin, delicately brown and touchable,
suited for turning book pages, appropriate for ink sculpturing
fingers connected to memory, a people, a culture,
Chicago and this state.
using the language of 47th street, Springfield and Cambridge,
silences us with its narrative love-songs, ripe-sources
poems that governed the weather, invented eyes the colors
of wheat, sky, coal,
cabbage, soybeans and yes, creating images out of empty
pockets, and kitchenettes.
art that reversed massacred thought, healthy words renouncing
ignorance, providing a
landscape of glorious literature
emphasizing lineage, liberty and validation.
your discourse is of children, the four seasons:
poetry that deciphers myths.
your writing: the impulse to arrive at meaning, life-ringing
all accenting wisdom that affirmed in us the kindness
of your grand spirit,
the friendliness of ideas, melodies and soap operas,
of water, sun and clean fire. your language is of
the necessity of carrot juice, broccoli and fattening chocolate,
of solitude, good pens and fine paper,
the labor of writers, poets, musicians and under-fed artists,
of librarians, libraries, books and break-even bookstores,
the support of printers, editors and struggling book publishers,
of book festivals, newspapers, magazines and twice-a-year
the requirement of contemplation, dialogue with others
and reading on trains,
of legislators thinking outside the prism of dark suits
our ancestry is book country and rich earth,
galloping souls and skillful deal makers.
we are becoming the portrait of your right words.
Madhubuti, Haki R. Run Toward Fear: New Poems And A Poet’s Handbook. Chicago, IL: Third World Press, Inc., 2004.