The Impact of a Poem's Line Breaks: Enjambment and Gwendolyn Brooks' "We Real Cool"

Perhaps to her dismay as a voluminous, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, Gwendolyn Brooks is best known for her short but far-reaching poem "We Real Cool." The poem's beauty, strength, and power are rooted in its effective use of line breaks. Brooks' strategic choice of line breaks affects virtually every aspect of the poem: its pace, rhythm, mood, tone, characters, sound, and meaning. In this lesson, students will closely analyze the poem's line breaks and the effect of enjambment on their reading and interpretation of the poem.

Guiding Questions

How does Gwendolyn Brooks' choice of line breaks in "We Real Cool" affect the poem's sound, pace, and theme?

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will be able to: define and understand in context common poetic devices, such as the use of line breaks and enjambment.

Discuss and analyze poetry via active class discussion and small group work.