Monday, July 23, 2012

A Response to "We Real Cool"


Alas.  Sixty-six years after "We Real Cool," white America gets the chance to respond.
If you were ever a student in my English class, you read two poems--"Hope is the Thing With Feathers" by Emily Dickinson, and "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks.  Eighth grade, eleventh grade, twelfth grade, creative writing--it doesn't matter.  Those two poems are sacrosanct.  

In fact, I know there was a course or two in there in which I taught "We Real Cool" on the first day.  And why not?  Imagery, rhythm, characterization, gravitas--it has everything that makes a poem great, all in 24 words.  

In case you don't know the poem, here it is.  (And here's one of my former students reciting the poem.)  

We Real Cool

The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden 

We real cool.  We
Left school.  We

Lurk late.  We
Strike straight.  We

Sing sin.  We
Thin gin.  We 

Jazz June.  We 
Die soon.

         -Gwendolyn Brooks

Pretty great, right?  Well, it wasn't until last week, as I was preparing for the AP literature class I am beginning this fall, that I ran into this poem, written in 2006 by Joan Murray.


We Old Dudes

We old dudes.  We
White shoes.  We

Golf ball.  We
Eat mall.  We 

Soak teeth.  We
Palm Beach; We

Vote red.  We 
Soon dead.

       -Joan Murray


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