Poetry, Quotidian and Gwendolyn Brooks

What is quotidian? Quotidian is the everyday life. It is something that occurs each day, ordinary, average, normal, standard, typical, commonplace, plain, simple, boring, uninspiring. Part of the quotidian is your cereal that you eat every morning, your bread and butter, a phone conversation with someone you know, that girl you see every day at the same place, that old bench in the park. The quotidian means to wake up and do the very same thing every day, or almost the same and almost every day. If the quotidian is boring and uninspiring, how can someone write poetry about it? Is it possible to see the unusual and uncommon within the very usual and familiar? Can you look for something new in the everyday life? That is possible when looking for the essence of things. By looking for the essence of things, you try to understand the human experience. By writing a poem about the quotidian and usual things, poets try to see the unusual and the uncommon. 

Here, the idea is to reveal what is behind the appearance, or the essence of the events of everyday life. It is what Socrates tried to do. Here, the poet should ask as a philosopher: what is behind the appearance of this phenomenon? What is behind the appearance of this old wood bench? Or this trash bin? Can I write a poem about a trash bin? In this regard, every single object can become a source of inspiration. Writing poetry means the possibility of utilizing imagination to approach an event or an object from a creative perspective. Poets may decide to go for a walk and write about the simple things of life as you see in this poem by Gwendolyn Brooks.

We Real Cool (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

Gwendolyn Brooks poem is about the quotidian. In an interview, Brooks said that she was walking in the street, arriving at her home when he saw a group of boys playing during school time. The boys were happy, drinking and having fun, however, the poet reflects on the life of the African American population at that time and how these boys may end up trapped without education. The rhythm is one of the most important features in this poem. It makes the reader feels how life goes faster without the boys perceiving that their good time is ephemeral. Enjambment contributes to the rhythm. The poet predicts a sad end to the boys in the shovel. The jazz rhythm contrasts with the mourning tone at the end of the poem. The verb die in the last verse marks the end of the movement, contrasting with the other verbs jazz, sing, strike, thin which represent rhythm, action, and the thrill of an exciting ephemeral life. By representing the sentiment of the boys who saw themselves as smart and cool by leaving school to play in the shovel, the poet sees them as naïve guys. She does not mourn the physical death but the social death of boys who would trace their route to the margins of society through the lack of education.

The main point is that the artistic beauty may be found in the simple things in life. Perhaps, something that you do not perceive when you run to your school or work, but it is always there, probably at the same place. Looking to something that is simply part of the quotidian life to create poetry out of it, requires an extra attention and training of your sense of observation to see something sublime in the usual and common things of life.

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