“We lit/ we finna dip”: Gwendolyn Brooks and The Art of Cool

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 seek to understand and convey the power of Black culture. Poets often make connections between things, which is 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.

Mr. Smith, 6th Grade

by Brandon H.

I like football
I like not going to school.
I like video games.
I like outdoors.
I like drawing.

Riley W.

Everybody thinks I’m Cool
I’m a basketball-type of cool kid
It’s the games
and what I wear
It’s the sports
I play cool

Ms. DeAllume, 6th Grade

by Elijah R.

1. Playing games
3. Playing in the sun
4. not reading
5. Skateboarding

a real cool thing
by Alexis V.

Riding a motorcycle is cool
It’s not like being in school

Having a Michael Jordan shirt
is also cool.
But it’s still not like school.

by Giovanni

I think spring
break is cool and
summer break too
I listen to music
and play video games
on the weekend.

Mr. Endres and Mrs. LeSane, 8th Grade

I Like But I Love
by Lina D.

I like the music instead of the show
it’s the games I play. that help me grow
it’s the sports I play, instead of the grades I know
yes people think I’m cool, but they don’t know what I’ve been through
I love her most especially when she holds me close.

Molly M.

I like playing guitar
I play it a ton

Skateboards are great
It’s a great trait

Drawing and paying is the best
it helps me with stress.

Doonie Gang
by Yessica D.

we the Boonie players
It just us three
we party
we free
it’s just me
and the gang-y

We Lit
by Lazurus G.

We lit
we finna dip
Ima grip
on the drip

Me & Twinerra
by Kylie C.

We pot out trim
me and my twin

we sick to a
trend, den we
dip in a benz.



“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.