10 Poems Everyone Needs to Read

“We Real Cool,” Gwendolyn Brooks

We read this poem three separate years in high school. And we read it in college. Twice. So clearly some people who get paid to decide on what poems the youth should read think this is a good one. Not that we mind — we love this musical classic by Gwendolyn Brooks, which starts off playful and then, without warning, cuts to the bone.

THE POOL PLAYERS.
SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.