‘we go in rows/ do as told’: Gwendolyn Brooks Imitations

Students read Gwendolyn Brooks’ classic poem, ‘We Real Cool’ before crafting their own ‘cool’ poems using their own words and ideas for what is cool, rhyme repetition, and the short form.

We Real Cool

by Gwendolyn Brooks

               The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We

            Left school. We

            Lurk late. We

            Strike straight. We

            Sing sin. We

            Thin gin. We

            Jazz June. We

            Die soon.

Lesson Note:  “Well, I’m a poet, but I’ve also worked in libraries and in institutions like the Schomburg Center that seeks to understand and convey the power of Black culture. Poets are often making connections between things, and that’s also what a museum does. It connects us to conversations, it confronts us with artifacts and history in ways that poetry does. And it also reminds us of our roles in the world and with each other. In other words, it asks us to think about our humanity. Great museums and great poetry do that in different, but complementary ways.”-Poet, Kevin Young, editor of ‘African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song’  to Oprah Daily, April 30th, 2021.

Ms. McClain, 7th Grade


by Marko M.

We all like sports

We all have similar clothes on

We all play similar video games

We all watch similar movies

We all have similar names

We all ‘hate’ Taylor Swift

And we all like Fortnite

Belonging is fitting

in. Being able to hand out with

people in your environment and being

able to relate to others.


by Sloan L.

When you’re 9

you think you’re cool

when you stay up past

your bedtime

when you’re in middle school

you’re only cool

when you sneak out

get high

or die


the world can hit

like a sharp tool

can change you

like the seasons

change from winter to summer

now people go

from old to young

that’s pretty cool

Mrs. McClain, 8th Grade


by Georgia N.

Belonging is liking the same thing as your friends

playing the same sports

listening to the same music

getting the same grades

wearing the same clothes

watching the same shows

Belonging is fitting in.


by Sofia B.

I Belong.

the things that make me. me .

I Belong

Took me a while to figure this out

Had to shout.

This pencil

These clothes

this poem

I Belong

Belongings are cool

Belongings are fools

Belongings are anything

Belongings are





That is what

makes us, us

Belongings helped

me figure if I knew

who I was

It did.

I belong.

Mrs. McClain, 8th Grade


by Nicholas P.

the school kids

8-3 at school

We stay in school

We stay up late

We study to get a row of straights

We need to say in

to hope to pass

this needy class

yet a stressful pass

We will waste our years

in tears

we go in rows

do as told.

Belonging is Fun

by Leena H.

Belonging is accepting

Belonging is understanding

your friends and yourself

Belonging is teams,

a duo, trio, squad, team rumble

is belonging

Belonging is coo.

Mrs. McClain, 7th Grade


by Sergio H.

You would be cool

but you treat me like a tool

you’re never at school

you never follow the rules

You got fooled


by Ben D.

I belong in school

I belong in a comment section

I don’t belong in a bar

I don’t belong in a big crowd

I don’t belong in a fandom

I want to belong in a convention

I have to belong in an artist’s fan base

that’s pretty cool.



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.