Gwendolyn Brooks's Annie Allen
In 1950 Gwendolyn Brooks became the first black American to receive a Pulitzer Prize for literature for Annie Allen ( 1949), a collection of rigorously technical poems, replete with lofty diction, intricate word play, and complicated concatenations of phrases. One particular poem, " The Anniad," which constitutes the second of three sections in the collection, is especially characteristic of Brooks's fascination with "the mysteries and magic of technique." In fact, " The Anniad" seems to possess an inordinate amount of word mystery and magic. Brooks readily admits that " The Anniad" is a "labored" poem, although she also says that she derived a great deal of satisfaction from writing it: "What a pleasure it was to write that poem! ... I was just very conscious of every word; I wanted every phrase to be beautiful, and yet to contribute to the whole . . . effect."
Perhaps the delight she took in creating " The Anniad" was responsible for her indulgence in the complicated techniques that densely pattern the poem's texture, as well as those in the other two sections of the book, " Notes from the Childhood and the Girlhood" and " The Womanhood."
The complicated techniques in Annie Allen produce virtual curiosity pieces of intellectual verse, which her critics consistently mention as prize‐ worthy. But by the same token, these critics seldom focus full critical attention on this book; instead, they discuss those collections that employ subtle____________________