“We Real Cool” is a poem that Gwendolyn Brooks wrote in 1959, and which appeared the following year in her third volume of poetry, The Bean Eaters. A work of deceptive simplicity, “We Real Cool” consists of eight lines of extremely compressed language exploring themes related to the social causes of juvenile delinquency. The poem has been included in dozens of anthologies. As such, it has influenced a broad range of writers, artists, musicians, and intellectuals. The poet Terrance Hayes even created a new poetic form based on the poem—a form he called, in homage to Brooks, the “golden shovel.”


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Deeper Study

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