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Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) was a hugely influential Black American poet who is best known for writing poems that, like “We Real Cool,” reflect the lives and struggles of ordinary people in marginalized communities. Brooks began writing poetry at the age of thirteen, and she continued to publish into her seventies. In all, she produced fourteen books of poetry, one novel, and two volumes of autobiography. Her remarkable body of work won her many awards throughout her career, and in most cases her win marked a first for a Black woman writer. She was the first Black writer to receive the Pulitzer Prize, which she won for her 1949 collection, Annie Allen. She also served as the poet laureate of Illinois in 1968, as well as the US Poet Laureate for the years 1985–86. Finally, she was the first Black woman to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Brooks wrote poetry in a wide range of genres and forms, including free verse poetry, sonnets, and even epic poetry. In addition to her formal experimentation and technical control of language, her work models a strong commitment to social issues, particularly those related to race and gender.