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
Books, Writing

What is Your Theme for 2019?

I have a theme for the year, something that I will work on as the year progresses. I decided on “love” as a theme. This may seem hokey, but I spend a lot of time alone and largely invisible to most people; however, I think about relations and relationships quite a bit, including the relationship that I have with myself.

So, my exploration of love means finding ways to love life and work even when I feel completely over it all. Finding ways to love people is, of course, at the top of the list, but also finding a way to love change, uncertainty, and weakness.

I have decided to do this by increasing my reading, or rather, changing what I read on a regular basis. As an English professor who primarily works in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory, most of my reading is historical, philosophical, and theoretical in nature. I rarely have time for fiction. Yet, I have a bookcase full of fiction books, so I have decided to give them my full attention.

Fiction can teach us a lot about love. Of course, experience is the best teacher, but I am more interested in how we conceive of love. How do we understand it, talk about it, or think about it?

And from love, especially self-love, what makes a relationship? From there, what makes a community, a region, a society, and so on. Books can be very instructive here.

My first book of choice: Thomas Moore’s Utopia. I have not finished it yet, but so far I can say that the man was a master of the dependent clause. His sentences are long, really long. However, the book is really short, about 80 or so pages. I will do a write up on it later.

Another thing I would like to do, specifically with this blog, is include poetry. Since my theme is love, I thought it would be fun to go on a love journey through poetry. I will post daily poems that make me think of love or demonstrate love in some way.

If you have any recommendations, send them my way!

-K