RIBIRTH INTO BLACKNESS IN GWENDOLYN BROOKS’ IN THE MECCA
Amany Abdelkahhar Aldardeer Ahmed
Assistant Lecturer at the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Sohag University
Ph.D student at the Department of English, Oklahoma University, USA
مقال نشر في مجلة جيل الدراسات الادبية والفكرية العدد 35 الصفحة 127.
Brooks’s awakening and her rebirth into blackness are represented in her works, In the Mecca (1968) and Riot (1969). These two works encompass new dimensions in Brooks’s way of writing and indicate the change in almost all her poetic aspects. The new black experience which Brooks has acquired after the awakening turned her from being an assimilationist poetess into an activist and a protester. Brooks’s poems after 1967 have undergone thematic change. Brooks’s major interest after the awakening was to urge black characters to be aware of their black beauty, pride and more importantly their black identity. This change greatly affected her content, tone, form and style of writing. In the Mecca and Riot clearly reflect the effect of the new experience on both themes and forms.
Rebirth – Blackness – Awareness – Movements – Integration Identity – Poverty, oppression and Persecution
My aim, in my next future, is to write poems that will somehow successfully “call” all black people: black people in taverns, black people in alleys, black people in gutters, schools, offices, factories, prisons, the consulate; I wish to reach black people in pulpits, black people in mines, on farms, on thrones; not always to “teach”—I shall wish often to entertain, to illumine. My newish voice will not be an imitation of the contemporary young black voice, which I so admire, but an extending adaptation of today’s G.B voice. (Report from Part One 183)
The year 1967 marks a real turning point in Gwendolyn Brooks’s literary life, in which she attended the Fisk University Second Black Writer’s Conference. In the conference, she realized how black writers were involved into black concerns and issues. “She encountered in that conference and, more crucially, in her mentorship of young poets a new kind of energy and pride in Black identity to which Brooks attributed a change in both her life and her writing” (Wheeler 228). Therefore, Brooks began to have a different dimension in her poetry and to dedicate all her coming writings to black people only. This experience marks a rebirth and a new awareness in Brooks’s literary life, where she met some major black writers who have a great black spirit. Hence, Brooks turned her later emphasis wholly to black people. She declared this in her autobiography when she said:
The real turning point came in 1967, when I went to the Second Black Writers’ Conference at Fisk University…there I found what has stimulated my life these last three years: young people, full of a new spirit. They seemed stronger and taller, really ready to take on the challenges (Report from Part One 45).
Brooks’s new black experience after 1967 matches the social and political changes of her society at that time. The experience reflects her new awareness and the growing sense of her pride of blackness. Brooks became more aware of the need for new poetry that could explore black issues. Most of Brooks’s new ideas and perspectives are helped by the Black Arts Movement and the change of the whole American society as a result of the current events of the late sixties. The American society at large underwent drastic change in all aspects of life. Many of the society’s views were altered. The early and late years of the sixties were periods of social and political movements and transformations. The death of the black leader Medger Evers On June 12, 1963, the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963 and the rise of the Vietnam War in the same year 1963; resulted in prevailing chaos and riot along the American society. Moreover, the rise of Civil Rights Act in 1964 has stimulated black people to revolt and protest against the status quo. “The decade of the 1960s was filled with tragedy and yet for social transformation, and eventually Gwendolyn’s poetry, friends, and her personality began to shift, as she became more aware of and entwined in politics and social movements” (Sickels 36).
As a result, Brooks’s post-1967 poetry is different in the way she sees things around her. She adopts a new perspective in handling black issues. She began to view new issues that she was not aware of before and to view her early themes with a different eye. Brooks asserts that the conference enriched her black experience as she admits that she was blind to many aspects of her earlier black experience. She states her feeling of change in her autobiography when she said: “I’m a black poet, and I write about what I see, what interests me, and I’m seeing now new things. Many things that I’m seeing now I was blind to before” (Report from Part One 151). After that date, 1967, Brooks began to open a new track towards the black experience, which came to be closer to blackness.
In spite of the fact that Brooks was very much influenced by the conference of 1967, the experience was not completely sudden for her. In other words, the content of all the discussed issues in the conference were not new for her. All the discussed themes concern black people, but what was new for Brooks was the way black writers express their ideas with great pride of themselves and of their black readers. Brooks’s black communal experience after 1967 continued the examination of the conditions of black people and their long struggle against the whites’ oppression. She realized that “the black emphasis must be, not against white, but FOR black” (Report from Part One 45). Brooks later works stem from her own knowledge which is reinforced by her own life. “No matter how her politics and beliefs transformed, the source of her poetry would never change” (Sickels 8). Her works still depict the grim life of black people who live amid the tensions of the American white society.
The themes and the characters of Brooks’s works after 1967 remain the same oppressed black people who live in the dilemma of race. Her poems discuss the same issues of Bronzeville ghetto black people. In an interview with her after 1967, when she was asked about her future poems, Brooks replied: “I imagine the future poems will seem more like some of the poems in A Street in Bronzeville” (Report from Part One 159). It was the tone, the technique and the poetic style of her works that have been changed. One of the crucial differences between Brooks’s pre-1967 and post-1967 is that, before 1967, she believed that the black experience and the white experience are the two parts of the major American experience. Therefore, she dealt with the black people in her early poetry in the period 1945-1967, not as separate entity, but she regarded the two experiences as inseparable. During the 1940s and 1950s, Brooks thought that integration is the best solution for the problems of black people and appealing to the whites was of a great importance for her. Brooks admits her early views when she said: “I thought that integration was the solution. All we had to do was to keep on appealing to the whites to help us, and they would” (Report from Part One 175). However, she had always been aware of all the oppression, injustices and humiliation done by the white people against the black people. Brooks, then, reached universality in her early works through integration of the white and the black people.
However, after her awakening in 1967, Brooks realized the way black writers see black people and she began to change her mind and to deal with the black experience as a culture-specific experience. After that date, Brooks adopted a new direction toward the black experience with more emphasis on the personal problems and sufferings of black people and with a stronger voice against racism. Her post-1967 poetry gives insight into the life of black people and the impact of racial pressures and sufferings. In her autobiography, Brooks says: “I have certainly changed where I was back in only 1967. I knew there were injustices, and I wrote about them, but I didn’t know what was behind them. I didn’t know what kind of society we live in. I didn’t know it was all organized” (Report from Part One 175).
Therefore, Brooks changed many of her concerns. Her form and style of writing have been changed to become more specific and full of freedom and anger. “Until 1967, Brooks, using topics from urban black life, worked with traditional Western poetic forms. In that year… she realized a different aesthetic and awakened to a new understanding of race”(R. Baxter Miller 278). She gave much attention to black self-consciousness and the black identity. The occasion of the conference affected her views in many respects. Her approach and character portrayal became different. She began to portray black characters to represent their fellow black people. Brooks focused her main interest after the awakening to address black people only not to address all humans. She began to find a new definition for blackness. For Brooks, the new black man is different from the early black man. He has self-confidence and great pride of himself. Brooks declared the change in the black character when she said:
There is indeed a new black today. He is different from any the world has known. He’s a tall-walker. Almost firm. By many of his own brothers he is not understood. And he is understood by no white. Not the wise white; not the Schooled white; not the kind white. Your least pre-requisite toward an understanding of the new black is an exceptional Doctorate which can be conferred only upon those with the proper properties of bitter birth and intrinsic sorrow. (Report from Part One 85)
The change in Brooks’s works was not only in her character portrayal, but also in the form of writing. In her early phase of writing, Brooks adhered to traditional and restrict forms. She was skillful in manipulating the sonnet, sonnet-ballad, epic and conventional meters. “While most of her early poems are written in traditional forms, including sonnets, ballads, and Chaucerian stanzas, after 1967 brooks began to experiment more heavily with free verse and the black vernacular” (Sickels 7). Brooks’s use of free verse and the black vernacular matches her new black experience and emphasizes her role as a black writer, whose main concern is to appeal only to the black audience.
In the Mecca (1968)
In the Mecca is Brooks’s first work to be published after her awakening. It took Brooks many years to accomplish this new work with different views and new consciousness. She began writing In the Mecca many years before she attended the conference. Therefore, it is considered to be a transitional work as it is written between two different stages of writing. During her writing of In the Mecca, Brooks was preparing for a new style and a new stage of writing different from that of her early stage. In the Mecca is the clearest example of Brooks’s moving toward a different and new black experience. The difference is not only in writing the themes of the work, but also in creating new forms and techniques. ” In the Mecca ….generally marks shift in Brooks’s poetic style, in which she abandoned the traditional forms of her earlier pieces in favor of free verse and also began to use more vernacular” (Sickels 44). Brooks’s use of the simple language and black vernacular was intended not only to reach all people of all classes, but also to attract the reader’s attention to every word and to the form of her poems. Brooks’s skill in using expressive words increases the popularity of In the Mecca. “By the power of words, the writer seeks to mesmerize her reader with the spell of form” (R. Baxter Miller 169).
In the Mecca marks the beginning of Brooks’s change and her new awareness. The work gathers between Brooks’s continual investigation of the black people’s concerns and issues and her new style of writing. Through In the Mecca, Brooks tries to present different kinds of black characters and offers various images of the black community. She succeeded in bringing in front of her readers many historical black figures who played important roles in the great events, occurred in her society during the 1960s. “In the Mecca, as a whole, shows the subtle causal relationship between the tragic lives of the Mecca’s tenants and national tragedies such as the assassination of Malcolm X and the murder of Medgar Evers, the deeds of Chicago’s Blackstone Rangers, and the street bombast of the disciples of black revolution” (Clarke 386, 1988).
In the Mecca is divided into two major sections that bear significant titles. The first section is a long narrative poem which bears the same title of the book, “In the Mecca”, which is considered a benchmark in Brooks’s poetry. The second major section, which holds the title “After Mecca”, is a sequence of several poems that vary from short to long poems. The short poems include, “To a Winter Squirrel”, “Boy Breaking Glass”, “Medgar Evers” and “Malcolm X”. The long poems within “After Mecca” are four sub-sections with subdivisions that bear different titles. The first sub-section is, Two Dedications, which is divided into two poems, “The Chicago Picasso” and “The Wall”. The second sub-section is The Blackstone Rangers, which is divided into three poems, “As seen by Disciplines”, “The Leaders”, and “Gang Girls”. The last two sub-sections of “After Mecca” are two significant and interrelated poems, The Sermon on the Warpland and The Second Sermon on the Warpland. All the poems within In the Mecca revolve around real black experiences of black people.
The poems within In the Mecca mainly concern the inequities and the injustices that the urban blacks face. Through recording the hopelessness and the despair of black characters within the Mecca building Brooks discussed, out of her own experience, issues of race and succeeded to merge the social and political events together. Brooks had a life experience in the Mecca building as she worked there for a short period of time. Hence Brooks’s representations in In the Mecca are true to life as she was involved in the incidents within the building. “The book concerns the building where Gwendolyn had once worked for the spiritual advisor, and portrays people who have been dispossessed and ignored by society” (Sickels 44). All the poems within In the Mecca give clues about Brooks’s concern with the grim conditions which are opposed on black people and her aim was to find a new attitude of blackness. Brooks tries through In the Mecca to create a separate society out of an old building in Chicago. Brooks’s main motive was to criticize and condemn her society for creating such types of the Mecca society which is full of murder, despair and frustration, a society that isolated its people from the outside world. “She wanted to exhibit all its murders, loves, loneliness, hates, jealousies” (Madhubuti 129). Therefore, Brooks used the Mecca building as a symbol for the American society at large, in which injustice and oppression were practiced against the poor black race.
The title poem, “In the Mecca”, records the incidents of the life of the inhabitants of the Mecca building, which was one of Chicago’s great buildings and that it had deteriorated after the First World War. Afterwards the Mecca building became one of the slum dwellings for urban black people:
By 1912, the Mecca housed the black elite of Chicago. After World War 1, the building began its decline. By the Great Depression the once elaborate showplace and tourist attraction had become a crowded slum for poor black people and a symbol of encroaching urban blight—a great hulk of modernity confining thousands of expendable people to the bowels of the city. (Clarke 136, 1995)
The poem portrays the life of the ghetto black people who were fighting to survive in poverty-stricken conditions. It presents different types of black characters who suffered from deprivation and horrors of racism. The poem is a masterpiece not just for the themes it discusses, but also for the modes of narration it presents. “In the Mecca” emphasizes Brooks’s awareness of Blackness through giving tribute to Black Nationalism. Throughout the poem, Brooks tries to stress the significance of the black lives through depicting many examples of black people:
The title poem of In the Mecca (1968) is a masterpiece of this more special kind of synchronicity, as well as of the more temporal kind. “In the Mecca” combines the patterns of a mythic quest with the daily rounds of life in a huge slum tenement. In doing so, it also meshes the human diversity of the various tenement dwellers with the uniformly oppressive conditions in the Mecca building (Hughes 392).
Brooks starts her long poem “In the Mecca” with a single line in a single page that introduces the poem, “Now the way of the Mecca was on this wise” (Blacks 406). Through this significant line, Brooks opens the door of the Mecca world, which is full of different stories of black people. “The opening page of ‘In the Mecca’, a single sentence situated apart from the rest of the narrative, demonstrates how Brooks’s mixed mode of address is paradoxically inviting and disorienting at the same time” (Lowney 9). Then Brooks starts to present the characters of her poem who are the heroes and the heroines of her different stories within the building. Brooks employs the device of the narrator to narrate the details of the stories of those black characters who are all inhabitants of the Mecca building. The narrator lives among the characters and shares them their moments which are always sad and painful moments. The length and the richness of the poem give Brooks much space to argue many issues concerning her black race. “Like her narrator, Brooks arrives in the wake of destruction; signifying indeterminacy, ambiguity, fluidity, unpredictability, and liminality” (Clarke 138, 1995).The central character throughout the poem is Mrs. Sallie, who is one of the miserable inhabitants of the Mecca building:
S.Smith is Mrs. Sallie
hies home to Mecca, hies to marvelous rest;
ascends the sick and influential stair.
The eyes unrinsed, the mouth absurd
with the last sourings of the master’s Feast.
to set severity apart,
to unclench the heavy folly of the fist.
and suns that have not spoken die behind this
low-brown butterball. Our prudent partridge.
A fragmentary attar and armed coma.
A fugitive attar and a district hymn.
Brooks starts her long narrative poem with description of the main character, Mrs. Sallie which portrays a dark image of the deprivation and suffering under which urban blacks live. “The introduction to the narrative’s protagonist demonstrates the blend of demoralizing poverty and idiosyncratic vision that characterizes the residents of Brooks’s Mecca” (Lowney 11). Mrs. Sallie leads strenuous life, full of pains and sufferings. She was seeking rest which became something “marvelous” for her. The use of adjectives is expressive as it helps in portraying a faithful image of Mrs. Sallie, who “ascends the sick and influential stairs”. Out of her tiredness and fatigue, Mrs. Sallie’s eyes seem “unrinsed” and her mouth became “absurd”. When reading “In the Mecca”, one can notice the different feelings and the opinions of those grim black inhabitants who were imprisoned within this fragmented and deteriorated building. “All live in this decaying city; only through imagination can the reader constantly sustain their opposing visions. But in Mecca sustentation is all” (R. Baxter Miller 163). The setting of the action, the Mecca building, symbolizes the prison, the despair and the alienation of the black dwellers whose life was full of despair and oppression.
Mrs. Sallie, the heroine in “In the Mecca”, leads a tragic life in the Mecca building. Her tragedy was aggravated when she returned home and discovered that her young child Pepita is missing. Mrs. Sallie is a helpless poor black woman who has nine children, who are named in the poem when their mother was asking them about her missing Pepita, but unfortunately her search was fruitless. She spent much time searching for her daughter but no one of her children or her neighbors answered her. “Preoccupied with their own lives, past and present, the characters lack any answers” (R. Baxter Miller 183).
…Cap, where Pepita? Casey, where Pepita?
Emmett and Melodie Mary, where Pepita?
Brigges, Tennesse, Yvonne, and Thomas Earl,
where may our Pepita be?—
our Woman with her terrible eye,
with iron and feathers in her feet,
with all her songs so lemon-sweet,
with lightning an a canle too
and junk and jewels too?
My heart begins to race.
I fear the end of Peace. (Blacks 415-16)
After asking her young children about their missing sister, they replied helplessly: “Ain seen er I ain seen er I ain seen er/ Ain seen er I ain seen er I ain seen er “(Blacks 416). Mrs. Sallie went out through the building searching for her missing child, but in vain. After long time searching for the young Pepita, she was found murdered by the hands of one of the characters within the Mecca building. In his article “Gwendolyn Brooks’s ‘In the Mecca': A Rebirth into Blackness”, William Hansell portrays the scene of the family useless search for the missing girl in the same way as the narrator did in the poem:
The main narrative action presents a family in the Mecca frantically searching the labyrinthine structure for the youngest child, Pepita, who before they find her is raped and murdered. In the course of their search, they confront a varied and disturbing group of people, most of whom are too fearful, bewildered, selfish, or fanatically enmeshed in their own affairs to respond sympathetically or compassionately to the problems of others. (200, 1974)
In her search for Pepita, Mrs. Sallie encountered different black characters who were inhabitants of the Mecca building. They resembled Mrs. Sallie in the same poor miserable circumstances in which they lived. Brooks portrays different images of distressed black individuals who shared among them poverty and oppression. All of them fall victims of the racial oppression and segregation. Their dilemma was not less than Mrs. Sallie’s, but they all suffered in the same way from different colors of racism whether in the form of poverty, rape or murder.
Character portrayal plays an important role in Brooks’s “In the Mecca”. Each character is sketched in a different form to represent certain prototype. Brooks begins her portrayal with the central figure, Mrs. Sallie Smith and her simple and poor children who live in isolation from the outside world. “The brief introduction of the children illustrates one important idea in the poem: Each is compelled to deal with the immediate environment” (Hansell 202,1974). Brooks draws complete cynical image of Mr. Sallie’s family and the hard conditions they live in.
And they are constrained. All are constrained.
And there is no thinking of grapes or gold
or of any wicked sweetness and they ride
upon fright and remorse and their stomachs
are rags or grit.( Blacks 416)
Mrs. Sallie’s children represent the poorest slice of their society. “Her children, nourished in the black urban ghetto, have grown to dislike people who own with ease objects about which they can only dream” (Jeanne- Marie A. Miller 89). They are deprived of the simplest privileges that other children have. They are different in the sense that they lack everything that may please them as children. Mrs. Sallie describes three of her children when she says:
Emmett and Cap and Casey
are skin wiped over bones
for lack of chub and chocolate
an ice cream cones,
for lack of English muffins
and boysenberry jam.
“Through the private thoughts of Mrs. Smith and eight of her nine children, one learns much about the results of the exploded dreams of the black people in the Northern ghettoes” (Jeanne- Marie A. Miller 89). In her proposal for the poem, Brooks stated:
I wish to present a large variety of personalities against a mosaic of daily affairs, recognizing that the grimmest of these is likely to have a streak or two streaks of sun. In the Mecca were murders, loves, loneliness, hates, jealousies. Hope occurred, and charity, sainthood, glory, shame, despair, fear, altruism. Theft, material and moral…. To touch every note in the life of this block-long block-wide building would be to capsulize the gist of black humanity in general. (Report from Part One 189-90)
In her search for her missing girl, Mrs. Sallie met a number of her neighbors who also add to the dark image which Brooks tries to convey of the whole dwellers of the building. The first figure she met was St. Julia Jones who always resorts to her Lord in many of her situations in life:
Sees old St.Julia Jones, who has had prayer,
and who is rising from amenable knees
inside the wide-flung door of 215.
“Isn’t He wonderfulwonderful!” cries St.Julia.
“Isn’t our Lord the greatest to the brim?
The light of my life. And I die late
past the still pastures. And meadows. He’s the comfort
and wine and piccalilli for my soul.
He hunts me up the coffee for my cup.
Oh how I love that Lord.”(Blacks 407-8)
St.Julia occupies her mind with some views and beliefs which are shown to be joyful than being religious. She lives isolated within her world and that she finds relief in her Lord. She believes that, “He’s the comfort” of all her suffering and frustrations. St. Julia is an example of the poor and helpless black people who preferred to leave the tyrant society and to search for refuge in her Lord.
Another significant character within the Mecca building is Alfred, “an English teacher and untalented would-be writer, comes to act as a choral commentator as the poem develops” (Taylor 114).
Sallie sees Alfred.Ah, his God!-
To create! To create! To bend with the tight intentness
over the neat detail, come to
a terrified standstill of the heart, then shiver,
how stuffs can be compounded or sifted out
and emphasized; what the importances are;
what coats in which to wrap things. Alfred is un-
talented. Knows. Marks time and themes at Phillips,
stares, glares, of mornings, at a smear
which does not care what he may claim or doubt
or probe or clear or want, or what he might have been. (Blacks 408-9)
Brooks portrays the character of Alfred in a special form to act in some situations as her spokesperson and to convey her messages through his vital comments:
The faithless world!
betraying yet again
My chaste displeasure
is not enough;
the brilliant British of the new command
is not enough;
the counsels of division, the hot counsels,
the scuffle and short pout
are not enough, are only
a pressure of clanking and affinities
the durable fictions of a Charming Trash.
( Blacks 414-15)
In this way, Alfred gives the opinion of the poet to criticize some aspects of the society. Alfred’s black experience within the Mecca building has a great impact on his character and his great sense of blackness is the source of his inspirations. Alfred “discovers communal relationships he had tried to ignore and discovers also that the profoundest influences on his thoughts and actions, on his values and ideas, derive from his racial and personal experience, from, in short, his blackness” (Hansell 199,1974). Even on the level of word-choice, Brooks intends to use expressive words as, “The faithless world, betraying, and displeasure”, to show her disapproval of the prevailing social and political aspects of the society through employing the character of Alfred as a commentator on the events. Other times, the narrator comments on the character of Alfred, who understands the situation well and who is able to describe the image to the reader accurately, as in the following part:
No, Alfred has not seen Pepita Smith.
But he (who might have been an architect)
can speak of Mecca: firm arms surround
disorders, bruising ruses and small hells,
small semiheavens: hug barbarous rhetoric
built of buzz, coma and petite pell-mells.
( Blacks 421-22)
Hence, Alfred’s role in the poem is not just a tenant in the Mecca building; rather he represents the reader’s eye through which one could watch the events of the building. Brooks’s craft is shown in attracting the reader’s attention through her use of the characters and employing some of them for the task of the narrator. Brooks’s aim was to portray a complete image of the building.
In writing “In the Mecca”, Brooks’s aim was to portray a faithful picture of this black society and its people with all their concerns. Brooks did not only present a gloomy image of the society through portraying the miserable conditions of black people, but she left beam of light for her people. She indulged hope among the inhabitants of the building. Brooks was aware of the fact that black ghetto people suffered not only physically but also spiritually and that they were in a bad need for spiritual support among themselves. She portrayed some characters in special form to act this role. Prophet Williams is one of the tenants in the Mecca who acts as a healer for other depressed black inhabitants. However, his character could be seen from two sides; from one side he represents the hope for black people through the services he offers to them, and from another side, he exploits his fellow blacks and takes profits in return of his services.
Brooks, Gwendolyn. Report from Part One: An Autobiography.
Detroit: Broadside Press, 1972.
─ ─ ─. Blacks. Chicago: Third World Press, 1987.
Clarke, Cheryl. “Two Rich and Rounding Experiences”. Callaloo, No.35. (Spring, 1988), pp.383-386. JSTOR. Web. 12 July 2008. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2930971
─ ─ ─. “The Loss of Lyric Space and the Critique of Traditions in Gwendolyn Brooks’s In the Mecca”. Kenyon Review, XVII, No.1, winter, 1995, pp.136-47. JSTOR. Web.12 July 2008.
Hansell, William. “Gwendolyn Brooks’s ‘In the Mecca': A Rebirth into Blackness”. Negro American Literature Forum, Vol. 8, No.2. (Summer, 1974), pp.1990-209. JSTOR. Web. 24 June 2009.
─ ─ ─. “Essences, Unifyings, and Black Militancy: Major Themes in Gwendolyn Brooks’s Family Pictures and Beckonings”. Black American Forum, Vol. 11, No.2. (Summer, 1977), pp.63-66. JSTOR. Web. 24 June 2009. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3041575
─ ─ ─. “The Uncommon Commonplace in the Early Poems of Gwendolyn Brooks” CLA Journal, Vol. XXX, No.3, March, 1987, 261-77. 9 Oct. 2007.http://libs0400.acadlib.iup.edu/databases/databases.shtm
Hughes, Gertrude Reif. “Making it Really New: Hilda Doolittle, Gwendolyn Brooks, and the Feminist Potential of Modern Poetry”. American Quarterly, Vol. 42, No.3 (Sep., 1990), pp. 375-401. JSTOR. Web. 5 March 2007.http://www.jstor.org/stable/2712940
Lowney, John. “‘A Material Collapse That is Construction': History and Counter-Memory in Gwendolyn Brooks’s In the Mecca”. Melus, Vol. 23, No.3 (Autumn, 1998), pp. 3-20. JSTOR. Web. 18 Jan. 2009. http://www.jstor.org/stable/467675
Madhubuti, Haki. “Gwendolyn Brooks: Beyond the Wordmaker–
The Making of an African Poet” Comprehensive Biography and Critical Analysis: Gwendolyn Brooks. Ed. Halorld Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005. 121-137.
Miller, Baxter R. “‘Define… the Whirlwind': Gwendolyn Brooks’ Epic Sign for a Generation”. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol 125. 2000. eNotes Web. 18 Jan. 2009. http://www.enotes.com/gwendolyn-brooks-criticism/brooks-gwendolyn-vol-125/r-baxter-miller-essay-date-1986>
Miller, Jeanne-Marie. Rev. of Riot, by Gwendolyn Brooks. The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 39, No. (Autumn, 1970), pp. 368-369. JSTOR. Web. 9 Nov. 2010. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2967075
─ ─ ─. Rev. of In the Mecca, by Gwendolyn Brooks. The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 39, No. (Winter, 1970), pp. 88-90. JSTOR. Web.25 Oct. 2010.http://www.jstor.org/stable/2966893
Sickels, Amy. “Biography of Gwendolyn Brooks” Comprehensive Biography and Critical Analysis: Gwendolyn Brooks. Ed. Halorld Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005. 5-62.
Taylor, Henry. “Gwendolyn Brooks: An Essential Sanity” Comprehensive Biography and Critical Analysis:Gwendolyn Brooks. Ed. Halorld Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005. 97-120.
Weeler, Lesley. “Heralding the Clear Obscure: Gwendolyn Brooks and Apostrophe”. Callalo Vol.24, No. (Winter, 2001), pp. 227- 235. JSTOR. Web. 19 Nov. 2009. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3300497