TheSun TopImage

In the forward from Revelry 2008, Dr. Stephen Caldwell Wright, founder of the Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Association of Florida and editor of Revelry, recalls how Gwendolyn Brooks came to Central Florida and eventually established the Stephen Caldwell Wright Poetry Prize. He wrote:

The Central Florida Gwendolyn Brooks connection, as far as I know, began around 1974. One afternoon, during that time, I was greeted with a telephone note that my Grandmother had taken for me. The message was from one of the few Black students at Rollins College. His name was Luther Graham, and he was inquiring whether I would be interested in co-sponsoring a joint vist by Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black to receive a Pultizer Prize (1950), to Rollins and Seminole Community College.

The next day, I presented the inquiry to Dorothy M. Morrison, Chair of the Humanities Divivsion at Seminole Community College. Being the learned scholar and gracious human being that she was, Ms. Morrison was more excited than I. Almost immediately, I would come to understand and to embrace her exuberance. The turbulent years were still in passing, and Gwendolyn Brooks had become, among noted writers of color, one of the foremost representatives of a new wave of positive cultural and ethnic reassessment.

As scheduled, Ms. Brooks spoke at Rollins, and the next day, I escorted her to the Sanford campus. She seemed aloof yet quietly attentive. After her reading that morning, she mentioned that she was pleased with my introduction, and then added, “I wish you could have heard that person trying to introduce me last night.” From that moment on, we could talk: we had struck a bond that would grow over the years.

And grow, it did. Gwendolyn Brooks soon became an expected visitor to campus. During these early years, Brooks established a rapport with Central Florida writers and citizens, especially those in Sanford. Thanks to the devotion and vision of Dr. Robert L. Levin, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Gwendolyn Brooks continued to vist Seminole Community College and to till the literary terrain.

During the years of her many visits, she advised young poets and writers individually and through personal letters, which she eagerly posted upon her return to Chicago. In addition, she gave spontaneous prizes during campus workshops, and formally established the Dr. Stephen Caldwell Wright Poetry Award for the students at Seminole Community College. Over a twenty-five year period, Gewendolyn Brooks touched many lives and stirred the spirit of writers and thinkers in the Sanford community.

Respectfully,
Stephen Caldwell Wright, Editor