We real cool. We Left school. We Lurk late. We Strike straight. We Sing sin. We Thin gin. We Jazz June. We Die soon.
Asked to diagram the meter of the poem, I suggested that all of the syllables were meant to be stressed. The professor laughed at me... she wasn't a very nice lady. Actually, she was a perfectly nice lady, just not a very nice professor. But anyway, I later heard from other English majors with less mean professors that all the syllables were meant to be stressed, that was what was so original about the poem, and the main reason that poetry classes study it.
Then recently I came upon a recording of Gwendolyn Brooks reading the poem. She didn't stress the "we"s. She nearly drops the "we"s.
I liked my interpretation better.
Edit: I did not, by the way, write and publish this post while I was at work... I had the blog on auto-pilot - which is to say that I wrote the blog entry on Sunday and set it to post on Monday at 3 (rather than Monday at 8). Honest.