| The Heath Anthology of
American Literature, Fifth Edition
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Sanchez has taught
creative writing and African American literature in at least eight universities
across the United States. Now a professor of English at Temple University, she
has performed her poems and given poetry workshops in Australia, England, Cuba,
Nicaragua, and Africa, as well as the States. No other American figure blends
the roles of mother, teacher, poet, and political activist more sincerely and
energetically than Sanchez.
poems manifest the spiritual link between art and politics. If her earlier
poems are to be appreciated, the reader must forget all conceptions of what the
“poem” is, and listen attentively to Sanchez’s attacks on the Euro-American
political, social, and aesthetic establishments. Her work is intentionally
non-intellectual, unacademic, and anti-middle-class. “To blk/record/buyers” is
characteristic of her work which aims at teaching blacks to know themselves, to
be self-reliant, and strong. In this poem she attacks the Righteous Brothers
for their aping a style which originated with black performers such as James
Brown. What appears to be a list of the activities in the black urban community
contains over three hundred years of black history. Sex, language and retorts,
drinking, mocking war materials, crime, and religion are the placeboes blacks
have used for comfort. Sanchez’s poem ends with the “AAAH, AAAH, AAAH, yeah”
which both affirms her point and echoes the style of popular artists like
Aretha Franklin and James Brown.
language comes out of her immediate surroundings and accents her characters’
lifestyles. Her refusal to use standard, academic English is a part of a
political statement which undermines the use of language as a tool for
of her more important thematic concerns are her interest in the relationship
between black men and black women, and her interest in black children. Two of
her books are written for the young: It’s a New Day and A Sound Investment. In
these texts, too, Sanchez’s purpose is to teach black people to know
themselves, to be themselves, and to love themselves.
the time of the publication of It’s a New Day, Sanchez had become a member of
Elijah Muhammad’s Muslim community. Her Islamic ideology infuses her fourth and
fifth books of poetry, Love Poems and Blues Book for Blue Black Magical Women;
there she expresses her spiritual, mystical nature. And from this influence,
her poetry becomes more mystical, more suggestive and abstract. While she
experiments with the spatial possibilities in her earlier collections,
Homegirls & Handgrenades, her sixth volume of poetry, introduces several
prose-poems such as the very moving “Just Don’t Never Give Up on Love” that
looks like prose, but has many of the characteristics of poetry. Under a
Soprano Sky, Sanchez’s last collection to date, demonstrates both the fact that
she has perfectly honed her skills at repetition, hyperbole, and invective, and
that she has become more captivated by the sounds of language and the use of
metaphor and imagery.
Joyce Ann Joyce|
Chicago State University
In the Heath Anthology
Just Don't Never Give Up on Love
A Letter to Dr. Martin Luther King
Father and Daughter
We a BaddDDD People
Ima Talken bout the Nation of Islam
I've Been a Woman: New and Selected Poems
Homegirls & Handgrenades
Under a Soprano Sky
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Sonia Sanchez poet/playwright
Part of PBS's "I'll Make Me a World" site, provides a biography.
Sonia Sanchez speaks
From Seattle Times, audio files of Sanchez speaking about Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Academy of American Poets
Biography, list of works, and links.
Voices from the Gaps
Offers a biography, criticism, a primary and secondary list of works, and links.