To understand Sonia Sanchez, you mustfirst understand her past to appreciate her drive toward the future.Sanchez, a militant and dominating voice in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's, struggled through her early childhood while finding her voice when she needed it most.
After her mother died when she was one year old, Sanchez was then raised by her grandmother that died when she was five.Soon after her death, Sonia began to stutter.Sanchez struggled with the problem for 12 years.She would later share that writing helped her organize her thoughts and helped her slow down and speak more deliberately, thus discovering her own form of poetry.
I like Sanchez's form of writing because she experiments with form, spelling, beats, jazz scats, and more or less manipulates words with rhythms that roll syllable to syllable.
Herfirst two collections of poetry, Home Coming (1969) and We a BaddDDD People (1970), reflect her militant, antiwhite stance, inspired in part by the example of Malcolm X. She incorporates dialect and profanity into her pithy, biting poems, and the tone is usually combative. Sanchez unleashed some of her rage at America’s Anglocentric educational system. Her criticisms, however, were followed by suggestions, and she has become a powerful advocate of black studies programs.
Sanchez’s later poetry volumes are more specifically feminist in orientation, treating Sanchez’s personal growth while celebrating women in general. One of her most celebrated volumes is Homegirls & Handgrenades (1984), a collection of autobiographical prose poems. The volume recieved an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.
Sanchez continues to teach and write in Philadelphia.
Black American Women Fiction Writers (Writers of English: Lives and Works), Harold Bloom, ed., 1995. Used by permission of Chelsea House Publishers.
The “eye” devices (lowercase letters, speed writing, fluid lines) al…