A brilliant wordsmith, Gwendolyn Brooks made admirable strides to use her voice in a manner that detailed the everyday struggles of the Black community. Born in Topeka, Kansas in 1917, she lived the majority of her life in Chicago where she helped to transform the state's literary scene in a great way. By age 16, Brooks had published nearly 75 poems and as a means to support herself, worked as a librarian until her notability grew.

Her hustle certainly paid off. Her second book, Annie Allen, was published in 1949 and received rave reviews. The following year, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, making her the first Black person to receive the honor.

Though it's been nearly 20 years since her passing, Brooks' impact can be seen through her work, especially the following five poems. Though there are plenty more to study from, these compositions are a great introduction into her massive catalog.