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Books for changing the world
The Whiskey of our Discontent
Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience and Change Agent

Winner of the 2017 Central New York Book Award for nonfiction


Finalist for the 2017 Chicago Review of Books Award


The first black woman to be named United States poet laureate, Brook’s poetry, fiction, and social commentary shed light on the beauty of humanity, the distinct qualities of black life and community, and the destructive effects of racism, sexism, and class inequality.

A collection of thirty essays combining critical analysis and personal reflection, The Whiskey of Our Discontent, presents essential elements of Brooks' oeuvre—on race, gender, class, community, and poetic craft, while also examining her life as poet, reporter, mentor, sage, activist, and educator.

  • "[A] superb tribute...[an] essential collection."—Booklist

    “But each time I read Miss Brooks, each time I revisit her poems, they climb up on my knees and sit in tight contentment. They speak to me of form and color, patterns and dawns. They talk of myths; they tell me where flesh lives, where a troop of young heroes and sheroes lean back in chairs, ‘beautiful. Impudent. Ready for life.’ Where the young ‘Live not for battles won. / Live not for the-end-of-the-song. / Live in the along.’”
    —Sonia Sanchez, from the Foreword

    “Gwendolyn Brooks wrote and performed her magnificent poetry for and about the Black people of Chicago, and yet it was also read with anguish, delight, and awe by white people, successive waves of immigrants, and ultimately the world.”
    —Bill Ayers, from the Introduction

    “If a person from another planet, continent, or culture wishes to gain insight into the inner workings, the comings and goings of Black people in America, an excellent place to begin a formal or informal education is with the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks.”
    —Haki R. Madhubuti, from the Afterword

Other books edited by Quraysh Ali Lansana and Georgia A. Popoff