Today’s Literary Birthday: Gwendolyn Brooks

“When she became Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968, she took the unpaid and mostly honorary position and used it to help young writers across the state. She started the Poet Laureate Awards, a writing competition for children in schools of Illinois. She read all of the children’s submissions herself, and paid for the winner’s prizes out of her own pocket, which ranged anywhere from $50 to $500. Her daughter, Nora Blakely, told me that she would even make photocopies of the winning pieces at Kinko’s. She thought it was important for the young writers to read each other’s work.

On the Generosity of Gwendolyn Brooks, 100 Years Later

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