Thursday, June 7, 2018
Gwendolyn Brooks Park
4542 S. Greenwood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60653
The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, in partnership with sculptor Margot McMahon, Chicago Park District, the Poetry Foundation, and Brooks Permissions, cleared the final hurdle to approval of a landmark installation in Brooks Park. The Chicago Park District recently green-lighted final plans to install a larger-than-life bronze portrait of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, along with a porch modeled after the poet’s childhood writing spot, a stepping stone path etched with memorable Annie Allen quotations, and a stone circle symbolic of her enlarged world post-literary acclaim. The Chicago Park District also awarded the CLHOF a $2,000 grant and other support to help stage the unveiling on June 7 of this year, which would have been Brooks’ 101st birthday. The program, which is part of the Night Out in the Parks series, will run from 6-8 p.m. and include readings, performances, and tributes.
Gwendolyn Brooks: The Oracle of Bronzeville will be the very first sculpture of an African American woman, and also the very first sculpture of a woman poet, in any Chicago park. Daniel Tucker, writing for WBEZ.org on July 21, 2015, explained that “According to the Chicago Park District, there are [almost] no statues of women in our city’s parks because the heyday of public figurative sculpture in the United States took place at a time before women had earned the right to vote.”
You can help.
The CLHoF has set up a GoFundMe campaign. Click here and donate $5, $10, $100, or $5,000! Any amount will be welcome. Whatever you can afford.
When the Chicago Park District rededicated the park at 4542 S. Greenwood, in close proximity to Brooks’ childhood home, it was a momentous occasion, and a well justified decision. But Gwendolyn Brooks Park does not include any visible reminders of its namesake.
This project is meant to be a permanent tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks’ legacy, but also a central gathering spot in which poetry can be made and read, conversations can take place, events can be staged, and where visitors can just pause and reflect. A reminder of a remarkable woman, a remarkable poet, a remarkable Chicagoan—yes—but also a place that Chicagoans can be proud to visit and use. We think of it as an interpretive walk through Gwendolyn Brooks’ life and legacy, from the little girl on her porch to an internationally prominent cultural figure.
Over the next several months, CLHOF will launch several initiatives to help cover the costs of the project, including a GoFundMe campaign that is already underway. In addition, we’re buoyed by the helping hands of fine organizations like the Illinois Woman’s Press Association, who are pitching in to see this project come to life.
For more information, to donate or partner, or to talk about how you might help, contact CLHOF Founding Executive Director Don Evans.