Sonia Sanchez

sanchezsSonia Sanchez was born Wilsonia Benita Driver in Birmingham, Alabama. She earned a B.A. in political science from Hunter College and did postgraduate work at New York University. An important figure in the Black Arts Movement, Sanchez formed a writers’ workshop in Greenwich Village, attended by such poets as Amiri Baraka, Haki Madhubuti, and Larry Neal. She was a member of the “Broadside Quartet” with Madhubuti, Nikki Giovanni, and Etheridge Knight. During her early years as an educator she taught at San Francisco State University, where she helped found the first Black Studies program. Her collections of poetry include Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems (2000); Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums: Love Poems (1998); Does Your House Have Lions? (1998), which was nominated for both the NAACP Image and National Book Critics Circle Award; Homegirls and Handgrenades (1984), which won an American Book Award; Love Poems (1973); We a BaddDDD People (1970); and Homecoming (1969). “Only a poet with an innocent heart can exorcise so much pain with so much beauty,” Isabel Allende said of Sanchez’s poetry. Sanchez has published plays, written books for children, edited several anthologies, and released a solo spoken-word album with music, Full Moon of Sonia (2004). Among her many honors are the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University, where she began teaching in 1977, and held the Laura Carnell Chair in English there until her retirement in 1999. She lives in Philadelphia.


Ballad

(after the spanish)

forgive me if i laugh
you are so sure of love
you are so young
and i too old to learn of love.

the rain exploding
in the air is love
the grass excreting her
green wax is love
and stones remembering
past steps is love,
but you. you are too young
for love
and i too old.

once. what does it matter
when or who, i knew
of love.
i fixed my body
under his and went
to sleep in love
all trace of me
was wiped away

forgive me if i smile
young heiress of a naked dream
you are so young
and i too old to learn of love.


Links


Media

Let Freedom Ring | April 16, 2008
Symposium II | Creativity, Resistance, Liberation: Forms of Political Engagement in the Arts of the 1960s