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Sonia Sanchez
Sonia Sanchez Sonia Sanchez


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Sanchez, Sonia (b 1934), poet, playwright, essayist, and educator The life and work of Sonia Sanchez mark her progression toward enlightened understanding and expression of what it means to be Black and woman and connected to a larger world At various periods she has been reborn: as child poet after her grandmother died, as militant revolutionary of the 1960s, as spiritual visionary of the 1970s— all were stages in becoming a self-possessed strong woman Her writings have served as source and expression of her growth and commitment to harnessing political and spiritual energies to make a better world Born Wilsonia Benita Driver in Birmingham, Alabama, to Wilson L Driver (musician and teacher) and Lena (Jones) Driver, who died when Sanchez was a baby, Sanchez had two siblings: Patricia and Wilson, who died in 1981 Her grandmother, whose strength and unconditional love provided the security Sanchez needed to withstand childhood traumas and adult pain, died when Sanchez was six After this, possibly to compensate for a stutter she developed and that lasted throughout adolescence, Sanchez began to write poetry Moving to Harlem at age nine, she attended school, earned a BA in political science at Hunter College, and studied poetry under Louise Bogan at New York University.

Sanchez became deeply embroiled with Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal in political activism and poetry She taught at the Downtown Community School in San Francisco (1965–1967), then at San Francisco State University (1967–1969), where she helped found the first Black Studies program Sanchez's early work responds to political and personal upheavals of the 1960s with radical experiments in form, style, and theme “Assassin poems” and “lyrical confessionals” dominate Homecoming (1969) and We a BaddDDD People (1970) Sanchez targets the enemies—murdering “wite americans,” cops, sanctimonious Black puritans, and revolutionary poseurs—and lauds the heroes: Malcolm X, Bobby Hutton, John Coltrane, and Billie Holiday Like ee cummings, whom she parodies, Sanchez disrupts normal typography, word shapes, and the use of space to convey both emotion and clues to performance Homecoming's title poem epitomizes her theme: the return to blackness—rejection of white values—represents a return to Black speech and rhythms, idioms (dozens, rap), and music (jazz, blues) in a poetry as personal and confessional as it is insurgent Loneliness and lyricism characterize the personal poems so infused by a blues sensibility and sound that some critics credit Sanchez with placing blues at the center of poetic discourse.

Sanchez's first plays display similar militant themes: The Bronx Is Next (1968), dramatizing a plot to burn down a Harlem ghetto, and Sister Son/ja (1969), portraying the journey of a sister who is “moving consciously black,” despairs, and is reborn Other plays focus on Malcolm X, Black male and female relationships, and political allegory The anger and confrontation of the 1960s were consolidated in the empowering 1970s, when African Americans sensed a new connectedness to the world outside of America Travels in China, the Caribbean (1973), and Cuba (1979), and membership in the Nation of Islam (1972–1975) broadened Sanchez's vision She held a succession of teaching positions in the Northeast (University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University, Manhattan Community College, and Amherst College) before moving to Philadelphia, where she began teaching at Temple University in 1977 and is the Laura H Cornell Professor of English The less strident, pastoral lyrics of Love Poems (1973) depict moving moments in Sanchez's life: estrangement from her Puerto Rican husband, indictment of her father for casting her adrift, memories of love's ecstasy and despair Surrealistic imagery in “Old Words” gives way to anticipation of love in “Welcome home my Prince” An exquisite lyricism informs Sanchez's maturing vision and technique as she distills emotion into ever more restrictive forms: sonnets and ballads, tankas and haikus Other poems express growing allegiance to Elijah Muhammad, heralding her conversion to Islam, which inspired A Blues Book for Blue Black Magical Women (1973), perhaps her strongest achievement before Homegirls.

Sanchez experienced visions while writing this, her spiritual autobiography in five parts Exhorting the “Queens of the Universe” to forsake racist Western ways, she invokes the Earth Mother to guide her spiritual journey into the past, tracing her evolution from birth to rebirth; declares her devotion to the Nation of Islam; and returns to her ancestral home to be purified The last section draws from the Bible and Koran to depict apocalyptic visions and ends with the repeated refrain “in the beginning / there was no end” Chanting rhythms and imagery of Egyptian myth and Swahili praise poem enact the symbolic death and rebirth of all Black women It is a “mountaintop poem” that transports African American rhythms to the pinnacle, then into deeper self-understanding During the 1970s Sanchez also wrote three children's books It's a New Day (1971), The Adventures of Fathead, Smallhead and Soaphead (1973), and A Sound Investment (1980) address the need to instill in young people pride in their heritage and knowledge of their history and culture Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s Sanchez has been a dedicated teacher, mother, and prolific writer Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, journals, and anthologies, and six records exist of her readings She has also received prestigious awards, among them a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship (1978–1979), the Lucretia Mott Award (1984), American Book Award (1985), Pennsylvania Governor's Award (1988), and Paul Robeson Social Justice Award (1989).

The 1980s witnessed the production of some of her finest work In I've Been a Woman: New and Selected Poems (1981) earlier poems establish a context for new works Four poems about her father trace her evolving feelings, from vengeful scorn to forgiveness and reconciliation Love, “sweet as watermelon juice,” pervades the “Haikus and Tankas and Other Love Syllables,” which explode with sensual images of color, sound, taste, and touch “Generations” honors Sterling A Brown, “griot of fire,” Gerald Penny, a student who died in 1973, and Shirley Graham Haki R Madhubuti calls this book “a truly earth-cracking contribution,” exuding a rage and “urgency” unmatched by most of her peers Sanchez's most acclaimed work, Homegirls and Handgrenades (1984), received the American Book Award in 1985 “Grenades” are words that explode people's deluding myths about themselves and the world.

New poetry and prose poems, interspersed with selections from Love Poems, comprise the four sections documenting the lives and longings of people who have loved or betrayed, disappointed or inspired her Affirmations of “The Power of Love” contrast with the bleak portraits of “Blues Is Bullets,” exposing love's power to distort and destroy Prevailing images of death in “Beyond the Fallout” contextualize tributes to Jesse Jackson, Margaret Walker, and Ezekiel Mphehlele in “Grenades Are Not Free” Sanchez introduces a series of prose poems reminiscent of Jean Toomer's Cane (1923), describing an encounter in a park between an old woman and an overburdened young mother, the ravages of drug addiction on a family, and meetings with former classmates whose youthful promise has been twisted into self-annihilation The powerful climax—her letter to Martin Luther King, Jr, announcing a new day, and “MIAs,” commemorating those missing in action in Atlanta, Johannesburg, and El Salvador—exhorts all people to liberate the oppressed and alleviate suffering Under a Soprano Sky (1987) interweaves strands of earlier works with new themes and techniques to demonstrate Sanchez's political, spiritual, and artistic growth The title poem's lyricism, sensuously mingling the body and the natural world, infuses elegies for her brother, for members of the back-to-nature movement MOVE slaughtered by Philadelphia police, and for the city itself Chronicles of victims—a Hiroshima maiden, a Black man, Vietnam veteran James Thornwell, and Stephen Rinaldo, a murdered boy—inform tributes to heroes like Papa Joe, Paul Robeson, John Brown, and “Dear Mama,” the grandmother who allowed her to grow A melange of voices speak in haikus, tankas, and blues, alternating with more prosaic forms portraying a feisty “rough mama” and Mildred Scott Olmstead.

The selections in “Endings” look ahead to the rise of a new earth, the work of tomorrow's poets, and the bright promise of her graduating sons In the 1990s, Sanchez continued her poetry and essay production with several volumes They include Wounded in the House of a Friend (1995), Does Your House Have Lions? (1997), Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums: Love Poems (1998), and Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems (1999) For Sanchez poetry is a “subconscious conversation,” a dialogue she has carried on for nearly three decades with the lost, lonely, and oppressed She has been called a revolutionary, ritual singer, cultural worker, and people's poet—the roles intertwine, unified by an unshakable faith that the world can be changed and that one person can make a difference She has certainly done her part The revolutionary has ceaselessly agitated for radical reform, assaulting a morally bankrupt economic system, denouncing a racist agenda that incapacitates and kills, exhorting the “humanitarians” to join the struggle The ritual singer has chanted the syllables of “ancestral” voices—Orisha, Oshun, Maat, Shirley Graham, Lizzie Driver—making past mysteries sound powerfully in the present The cultural worker and people's poet has ministered to generations of writers, preaching the virtues of disciplined composition and living language, while celebrating African American sounds and sensibilities, boldness and beauty Like Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Jean Toomer, and Margaret Walker, with whom she is compared, Sonia Sanchez has opened a space in American letters where the racial self may be heard, affirmed, and strengthened.

With her sense of fiery justice and her legacy of love, Sanchez stands as an inspiration, an example of what it means to survive whole and human in a troubled world .



 
Def Poetry - Sonia Sanchez - Poem for Some Women
Sonia Sanchez on Season 1 Episode 2 of Def Poetry Jam.
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What does it mean to be human? | Sonia Sanchez | TEDxPhiladelphia
This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. In this captivating reading, legendary poet, activist and scholar ...
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Sonia Sanchezs advice to young activists and change-makers...
http://www.envisionpeacemuseum.org/ - Envision Peace Museum fosters insight into the meanings and roots of peace while empowering visitors to overcome ...
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2008: Sonia Sanchez — Middle Passage
Sonia Sanchez performs her poem "Middle Passage" accompanied by guitarist Gerry De Mol. September 11, 2008 at the Interdependence Day Celebration and ...
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A Conversation with Sonia Sanchez
Webinar with poet Sonia Sanchez conducted December 3, 2015 under the auspices of Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas.
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SONIA SANCHEZ Y EL MARIACHI NUEVO TECALITLAN - TE ACUERDAS?.
LA JALISCIENSE SONIA SANCHEZ CANTA ACOMPAÑADA POR EL MARIACHI NUEVO TETCALITLAN.
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Sonia Sanchez: I Was Pushed Out of New York City
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Sonia Sanchez Put on the sleeves of love.
Poet/Activist Sonia Sanchez takes a moment away from the Unitarian Universalist Association's Ministry Days to speak about what standing on the side of love ...
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Conversations: Sonia Sanchez
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Conversations: A web series that features uplifting and positive stories brought to you straight from the mouths of our ...
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Sonia Sanchez — Our Vision Is Our Voice on Def Jam Poetry
Sonia Sanchez — Our Vision Is Our Voice on Def Jam Poetry.
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Sonia Sanchez and Eileen Myles at the 2017 AWP Book Fair
Sonia Sanchez and Eileen Myles talk with Jeffrey Brown about their latest novels at the 2017 AWP Book Fair. FROM THE PUBLISHER: (Shake Loose My Skin) ...
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Sonia Sanchez reads Poem at Thirty
Poem at Thirty it is midnight no magical bewitching hour for me i know only that i am here waiting remembering that once as a child i walked two miles in my ...
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Sonia Sanchez: My Family / Growing up in Birmingham
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Sonia Sanchez: A Course on the Black Woman
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Ninguna mujer nace para puta - Sonia Sánchez en TEDxTigre
Fue explotada sexualmente durante 6 años. Hoy une su experiencia de vida a la reflexión teórica y política sobre temáticas de género, trata de personas y ...
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Minimalismo y Finanzas personales con Sonia Sánchez-Escuer | Finanzas personales
Minimalismo y Finanzas personales con Sonia Sánchez-Escuer | Finanzas personales personales Existen varias cuestiones interesantes con referencia a la ...
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Sonia Sanchez on learning the legacy of Zora Neale Hurston
After 75 years, Zora Neale Hurston's novel, "Their Eyes Were Watching God," still resonates in the hearts and minds of contemporary audiences, but it had ...
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BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez Trailer
BADDDDD SONIA SANCHEZ offers unprecedented access to the life, work and mesmerizing performances of renowned poet, educator and activist Sonia ...
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Boots Christopher Ameruoso & Sonia Sanchez Live
Christopher Ameruoso & Sonia Sanchez perform 'Boots' live 2016 Christopher Ameruoso's Swamp Rock Music.
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Def Poetry~Season-01 Episode-02, Dr Sonia Sanchez - Poem For Some Women
HBO show "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry or Def Poetry" Air Date: November 2002 Dr. Sonia Sanchez born Wilsonia Benita Driver, is an African ...
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