The dominant theme in the poem ‘We are Cool’ by Brooks (1959) is identity. Throughout the poem, the poet consistently uses the word ‘We’ to signify that the personas in the poem share a group identity and mentality. The boys want to be recognized for their rebellious actions that are putting them at odds with the rest of the society. Traditionally, people associate group identity with truancy and rebellious behavior. Usually people will identify themselves as a group in order to differentiate themselves from the rest of the society. Such people want to go against the norms in society, and they believe they will perish because society is constantly trying to fight them. Most of the times, the individuals in the group go out of their way to push the boundaries in the society.
For instance, the pool players in the poem were rebellious, and their actions and beliefs were shaped by the rebellious nature of the jazz and blues music scene in 20th Century Chicago. They were trying to push the boundaries in the society because they were fed up of being mistreated by the majority. They found solace in the type of music, which encouraged them to remain rebellious and fight for their own rights as part of the minority groups in the country.
The poem ‘Homage to my Hips’ has a similar theme of identity to the poem above. In the poem, the poet talks about her hips and gives them a strong identity. She proclaims that ‘these hips’ have never been in chains and they can spin a man like a top. She is empowering other women who identify with having hips to be confident, articulate, strong, and comfortable in their bodies. The poet wanted women to take charge of their natural beauty and be proud of what they were given. She is going against the norms of society at the time when women were degraded and had no say at all.