Literature

The Love Series: “We Real Cool”

When you think about poems that talk about love, I am sure this Gwendolyn Brooks poem is not the one that comes to mind. It is more rhythmic, jazz-inspired, and atmospheric. It does not make you think about intimate love; it makes you think of hanging with your very best friends being cool. That is precisely why I think it is a love poem.

I am especially interested in the subject ‘We’ in this poem. The ‘We’ provides the atmosphere, the rhythm, the pacing of the experience. 

I like this unifying idea of an ‘us.’ What is it about ‘us’ being together that makes it cool? Are we cool all on our own? Does getting together make a particular rhythm and establish a certain atmosphere that is cool?

The thing about love is that it involves two selves who become a ‘We.’ Most importantly, ‘We’ does not only mean our sexual selves. Sisters, brothers, friends, parents, family, and so on can compose a ‘We.’ Anyone you see as a part of your unit, someone that composes you and your experience in this world, is the ‘We’ that is cool.

I think it is a love poem about finding that unit, a group of people whom you can freely experience life with. 

Here is the poem:

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin grin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

Gwendolyn Brooks. Blacks. Third World Chicago Press, Chicago, ILL. 1987. pp. 331

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