"We Real Cool"

The creators of the Black Arts movement wanted to reach the widest possible Black audience. To do so, writers had to “bring poetry to the people,” wherever they were. It was with this in mind that Broadside Press launched its Broadside Series, printing single poems on sheets of paper with eye-catching designs. Often sold for a few cents, these sheets were meant to be passed around, hung up, and pasted on city walls. The ethos of this format, which made poetry accessible at minimal cost, also inspired the press’s name. When publisher Dudley Randall started the series, he asked Brooks if she would contribute a poem. Brooks replied, “You can use any poem I have,” resulting in this striking print of her 1960 work “We Real Cool,” designed by Cledie Taylor.

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000)
“We Real Cool”
Design by Cledie Taylor (b. 1926)
Detroit: Broadside Press, 1966
Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library
Call no. Broadside Ludwig 461. Reprinted by Consent of Brooks Permissions