”…I write to keep in contact with our ancestors and to spread truth to people.”
Sonia Sanchez is Poetry in ACTION. She makes POETRY a verb. Her fluid pen and power reverberate from Birmingham, Alabama to Harlem, NY to Dakar, Senegal and throughout the four corners of the world. As women of African Descent write their narratives with their ways, means, actions, and deeds – Mama Sonia documents, translates, deciphers, and delivers. She is a master of cadence, flow, and vernacular, the embodiment of catalytic change.
walken like the sun u be.
move on even higher.
laugh at yo/color
have not moved
to the blackness we be about
cuz as Curtis Mayfield be sayen
we people be darker than blue
and quite a few
of us be yellow
all soul/shades of
cuz some of us
be hearen yo/sweet/music.
”… in order to be a true revolutionary, you must understand love. Love, sacrifice, and death.”
Mama Sonia has been there to see us navigate the world of oppression with perseverance and ingenuity. She holds the lens of countless movements, revolutions, and rebellions in her prism of resistance. The literature of the black woman’s story and its nuances might not have seen this insides of a lecture hall or been featured on a collegiate syllabus if she didn’t advocate for our voices to be heard. Educators should use her words to enhance curriculum and lesson plans that feature poetry and stylistic writing as they are beyond relevant and serve as a precursor for today’s poets. They can easily be juxtaposed with the words of a Common or Kendrick Lamar as our dreams and themes are consistent and potently reflected in the art we produce.
This woman vomiting her
hunger over the world
this melancholy woman forgotten
before memory came
this yellow movement bursting forth like
coltrane’s melodies all mouth
buttocks moving like palm tress,
raining rhythm to blue/black/smiles
this yellow woman carrying beneath her breasts
pleasures without tongues
this woman whose body waves
this woman wet with wandering,
reviving the beauty of forests and winds
is telling you secrets
gather up your odors and listen
as she sings the mold from memory.
there is no place
for a soft / black / woman.
there is no smile green enough or
summertime words warm enough to allow my growth.
and in my head
i see my history
standing like a shy child
and i chant lullabies
as i ride my past on horseback
tasting the thirst of yesterday tribes
hearing the ancient/black/woman
me, singing hay-hay-hay-hay-ya-ya-ya.
like a slow scent
beneath the sun
and i dance my
creation and my grandmothers gathering
from my bones like great wooden birds
spread their wings
while their long/legged/laughter
stretched the night.
and i taste the
seasons of my birth. mangoes. papayas.
drink my woman/coconut/milks
stalk the ancient grandfathers
sipping on proud afternoons
walk like a song round my waist
tremble like a new/born/child troubles
with new breaths
and my singing
becomes the only sound of a
womb ripe. walking. loud with mornings. walking.
making pilgrimage to herself. walking.
Sonia Sanchez’ words articulate the pain and triumph of the Black Experience in America. She manages to paint us with broad strokes that examine our depth while exposing our frailties. Her voice echos our vulnerabilities with resounding triumph, power, and strength. That is how poetry becomes a verb.