Gwendolyn Brooks has published five volumes of poetry and a novel; won two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950; and succeeded Carl Sandburg as Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968. She also teaches English in three colleges in Illinois. In this, her first collection of poetry in nearly ten years, she reflects her own. . . and America's. . . new sense of what it is to be Negro. The long title-poem, which constitutes most of the book, is a narrative-description of life and a tragedy in a decaying ghetto apartment house in Chicago. It is rich in taut, stinging lines and images, in portraits of a wide variety of Negro slum-dwellers, militant, intellectual, detached, ex-slave, mere survivors, and others, down to a child murdered by her sordid world. In this, as in the few following poems (Malcolm X, gangs, etc.) it is not the event, but the air surrounding the event that is important: a sense of excitement, commitment. She is not a preacher or reporter, but a brilliant poet, whose meanings are precise, fluid, and far-reaching.