The poem has been featured on broadsides , re-printed in literature textbooks and is widely studied in literature classes. It is often cited as "one of the most celebrated examples of jazz poetry ". It consists of four verses of two rhyming lines each. The final word in most lines is "we". The next line describes something that "we" do, such as play pool or drop out of school. Brooks has said that the "we"s are meant to be said softly, as though the protagonists in the poem are questioning the validity of their existence. It also suggests a moment of self-awareness about the choices that the players have made. The poem also contains references to the seven deadly sins. In an interview Brooks stated that her inspiration for the poem came from her walking in her community and passing a pool hall full of boys. The poem covers a multitude of themes despite its short length, some including rebellion and youth.
More by Gwendolyn Brooks
We real cool. We Left school. Lurk late.
Summary and Analysis
Andrew has a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. His poems are published online and in print. We Real Cool is a poem about the identity of a group of teenagers, black males, playing pool in the Golden Shovel. They are said to be black, like the poet Gwendolyn Brooks, but the poem could be about any group of rebellious youngsters anywhere, be they white or female. It was written in and first published in the volume The Bean Eaters.
It is a constant in the poem until one gets to the final line. It could be one person among the group of players speaking for everyone else, an uninvolved onlooker projecting what he or she thinks onto the group, or every line might be spoken at the same time by all seven players. Before beginning this piece it is important for a reader to take note of the subtitle that appears before the text actually begins. It reads,. These two lines are straight forward, just like the rest of the poem. They are used to set the scene as if they are stage directions. It is a meeting place where any number of games, pool included, could be played.