Since being introduced to her in my English Studies class, Gwendolyn Brooks has been a writer that whom poetry tells so much in the little words that are said. It can be hard for some to picture the imagery right off the bat; still, her storytelling captures reality for the typical African-American growing life. I find her infatuation with death as a recurring theme takes many shapes and forms. In a lieu of her writings, you find her taking death and building a story as if she were there to witness all happen. I am not sure if she has personally, but once reading it can be hard to determine if I’m the listener or the by-standing witness.
In the poems of De Witt Williams on his way to Lincoln Cemetery and The Boy Died in My Alley serve as scenes in the aftermath of unfortunate violence. While one speaks on the death of the boy who was murdered, the other sits as a reflection who the boy was before he was laid to rest. Both narrators in the poems did not know the respected individuals personally, but were familiar with who they were when speaking in actions. As De Witt Williams enjoyed dance halls and drinking, the boy who died in the alley was known to put his life on the line; maybe he could have been a drug dealer or smuggler, yet his activity in the alley was overheard often by the attendant.
It is possible to believe these poems may have been written about the same person, yet they were published at different times in Gwendolyn Brooks’ career. The Boy Died in My Alley can serve as interviews since there were police asking about the incident, or even as a premise to of De Witt Williams since the title bears the name of the boy being driven to the cemetery for burial. On a political level, The Boy Died in My Alley gives off the feeling the narrator blames themselves since she known the boy spent most of his time near her home. The title includes “My Alley” instead of “the Alley”, and the narrators expresses how they had an opportunity to save the boy’s life. Being hesitant gives the narrator guilt in their choice to stand by and hear him yell for his parents and siblings in his last moments alive. If the poems were to be connected, this could be more the perspective of many that either heard him in his final moments and see him driven past corners he was often seen around.
By reading her works, it shows Gwendolyn Brooks had the ability to bend her poems into the same context, regardless of how long one was written before another. I appreciate her penmanship as one of the few that do not get as appreciated in today’s literature. of De Witt Williams and The Boy Died in My Alley are remarkable poems that I will remember for years as time goes on.