Bronzeville Poet 

For Gwendolyn Brooks 


The streets of Bronzeville 

seem more beautiful 

because you gave them honesty. 

Made Philistine experiences 

more than monotonous copy 

for obituary columns. 

Helped Black children 

realize that filth and dilapidated houses aren’t 

the only world they have. 

That Blackness is more than 

being able to recite Black poetry 

or wearing a voluminous natural. 

You gave them fertile 

soil from Africa to 

scrub their faces. 

Lifted their pregnable hearts 

When racist institutions 

branded their minds 

with inferior images. 

And the clumsy tongues of 

button-down collar bureaucrats 

told them that America 

was the Black man’s salvation. 

The streets of Bronzeville 

seem more beautiful. 

The blues at Pepper’s Lounge 

begin to take on 

greater significance. 

Muddy Waters becomes 

a living legend and even 

first graders admire Otis Redding. 

And the new Black poets 

begin to talk about 

creating something 


Black lifestyles/ 

and relevant dialogue/ 

They take a walk 

through your Bronzeville 

and begin to discover themselves. 

See true images/the gut of life 

silhouetted against the transparent 

fabric of the Black experience. 

A blues Singer greets them 

And fiddles on his twelve-string guitar, 

while little Bronzeville children listen 

And dance to your poetry. 


–by Useni Eugene Perkins 


Excerpted from the poem “Bronzeville Poet” by Useni Eugene Perkins. Copyright ©2022 from the book Wherever I’m At – An Anthology of Chicago Poetry, edited by Donald G. Evans and Robin Metz. Published by Third World Press. 


Useni Eugene Perkins is a human service practitioner and director of Chicago State University’s Family Life Center. As a poet, playwright, and author, he served as president of Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History, and president of the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago. He was inducted into the Gwendolyn Brooks National Literary Hall of Fame for writers of African descent in 1999. Perkins’ illustrated poem for children entitled “Kwame Nkrumah’s Midnight Speech for Independence” won the Children’s Africana Book Award for 2022.