Gwendolyn Brooks "The Mother"

African American poet Gwendolyn Brooks wrote one of the most popular poems on a controversial subject. The poem is titled “the mother,” and it explores personal feelings experienced by a woman who just had an abortion. This poem is pretty significant because it does not state whether a person is for or against abortion. It simply brings attention to the matter as a way of letting others know how and why such a decision affects their existence as a human being. The poem was written well before its time, as it showed the writer’s unique creative thoughts that translated feeling and emotion quite well into written text.

Brooks was born in 1917 and had written poems as a teenager. As she got older she used her poetic talent to bring attention to issues affecting African Americans. She was lauded as a creative thinker that brought personal thoughts and concepts to the political front. She was the first African American to gain the title of Poet Laureate in 1968 after winning the Pulitzer Prize for previous works in 1950. She wrote a number of poems and books that help others find their voice in different political issues of the time. But one poem that stood out strongly was “the mother.”

This poem is written on a touchy subject that continues to be controversial today. The title of the poem even presents an element of wonder. If the woman had an abortion, why is she referred to as the mother? Did she have other kids? Did she have more than one abortion? Did she feel as if she lost children even though she decided to terminate the pregnancy herself? Maybe the emotions felt throughout the poem signify what a real mother feels when something precious such as a baby’s life has ended.

Many people familiar with the court decision of Roe vs. Wade and how this led to women making the decision to have an abortion will feel this poem touches so many levels even though it was written years before this case came to pass. Many believe Brooks wrote this poem to share insight on something most people do not understand, even though opinions on the subject will vary. Motherhood may be defined as being a mother to a child, but some wonder if aspects of this poem offer another angle to what it really is.