In this brand-new feature from our archive, exclusive to, we take a look at an interview between Gwendolyn Brooks and noted historian Paul M. Angle called “We Asked Gwendolyn Brooks about the Creative Environment in Illinois.” The interview was originally published and distributed as a pamphlet from the Illinois Bell Telephone Company. In the 1960s, the company distributed a series of these pamphlets featuring different local individuals aiming to “present expert testimony on the many resources and opportunities for progress in Illinois.”

“I wrote poetry because I wanted to. I knew I’d always compose poetry, whether it was published or not,” Brooks says in the interview, during which she also discusses her writing process, her life in Chicago, the poet’s role in society, how to foster writing, and what it means to “learn” the art of writing. Read the full interview and browse our other resources in celebration of Brooks’s centennial this year.

read the interview

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browse more for brooks’s centennial