Gwendolyn Brooks touched many artists, writers, and book lovers in her 70 years as a South Side poet. But the Pulitzer Prize winner is “woefully understudied in the literary canon,” says writer Quraysh Ali Lansana. It’s a wrong he hopes to right with Revise the Psalm: Works Inspired by the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks (January 10, Curbside Splendor), an anthology of new work in celebration of Brooks’s writing.
Lansana and coeditor Sandra Jackson-Opoku combed through submissions from writers and artists around the world. The result: 178 poems, essays, and artworks from more than 80 contributors, including writers Angela Jackson, Sandra Cisneros, Rita Dove, and Diane Glancy.
The work is a testament to both Brooks’s “generosity and how she touched people from all walks of life,” says Jackson-Opoku. A “critical mass” of submissions came from Chicago, which Brooks called home for virtually all of her 83 years. Her influence on Chicagoans can be felt throughout the book, from Kevin Coval’s ode to the poet to Brooks’s handwritten edits on two of Lansana’s poems.
Brooks was the “most significant chronicler of black life in Chicago,” says Lansana. And 16 years after her death, Revise the Psalm proves she continues to be relevant.