On This Day in IUPUI History: March 10, 1983

March 10, 1983. 

On this day, renowned American poet Gwendolyn Brooks read some of her poetry and offered commentary on her works in a talk presented in the IUPUI Lecture Hall. 

A resident of Chicago, Brooks won many awards for her poetry of ordinary people's lives. Among them were the Pulitzer Prize, the Robert Frost medal and the National Medal of the Arts. Her appearance was the last in the campus's Distinguished Lecture Series for 1982-1983. The Black Student Union also sponsored the event.

A reporter from the Sagamore, the IUPUI student newspaper, characterized Brooks's talk as full of "humor, warmth, and passion." The audience of 600 "responded in kind with frequent applause and laughter and, at the end, a standing ovation."

Brooks read and discussed about fifteen of her own poems, including "Riot," which was inspired by events in Chicago after the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She wrote it from Dr. King's observation that "A riot is the language of the unheard." "It occurred to me," quoted the reporter, "to wonder how a young white liberal--or an old white liberal--would respond to such an announcement, such a confrontation."

The Sagamore's report concluded that after her talk Brooks spoke with many in the audience and signed many autographs. She "showed herself as generous and approachable as her poems are powerful and deeply felt."

Sagamore report of Brooks lecture, 1983

Many distinguished speakers have appeared at IUPUI. To learn about their appearances,  please consult reccords in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives speccoll@iupui.edu.

  

Updated Mar 10, 2019 by Editor Name Missing