This Woman Twirling

Sonia Sanchez

“The most fundamental truth to be told in any art form, as far as blacks are concerned, is that America is killing us.”

Sonia Sanchez

For Sister Gwen Brooks

Sonia Sanchez – 1934-


you tell the stars
don’t be jealous of her light
you tell the ocean,
you call out to Olukun,
to bring her always to
safe harbor,
for she is a holy one
this woman twirling
her emerald lariat
you tell the night
to move gently
into morning so she’s
not startled,
you tell the morning
to ease her into a water
fall of dreams
for she is a holy one
restringing her words
from city to city
so that we live and
breathe and smile and
breathe and love and
breathe her…
this Gwensister called life.

Sonia Sanchez, a leader in the Black Studies movement over the past 50 years, is a poet, playwright, professor and activist.  During the early 1960’s Sanchez was focused on racial equality, but as the violence of the 1960’s progressed she became more and more influenced by the ideas of Malcolm X, and the concepts around a separatist, independent black movement as a place of empowerment was needed among the black community.  Sanchez became an early pioneer in the emerging field of Black Studies, including developing classes on African American women’s literature and social justice.

Sanchez has published extensively as a poet, pushing new boundaries like the 1970 book  We a BaddDDD People, in which her love of African American language is the foundation of her poetic style.  She has written poetry for adults and children and is fond of haiku.  An important scholar and teacher, Sanchez had a lengthy teaching career and has won numerous awards for her writing. 

Sanchez was briefly married to Ethridge Knight in the 1960’s, with whom she had two sons.  Sanchez’s poetry is deeply influenced by  her experiences of motherhood, both as a mother and as a daughter, shaped in part from the loss of her own Mother when she was two in childbirth, and then her maternal Grandmother who was raising her when she was 6.   Sanchez also has a daughter from her first marriage. 


For Malcolm, A Year After

by Ethridge Knight (1931 – 1991)

Compose for Red a proper verse;
Adhere to foot and strict iamb;
Control the burst of angry words
Or they might boil and break the dam.
Or they might boil and overflow
And drench me, drown me, drive me mad.
So swear no oath, so shed no tear,
And sing no song blue Baptist sad.
Evoke no image, stir no flame,
And spin no yarn across the air.
Make empty anglo tea lace words—
Make them dead white and dry bone bare.
Compose a verse for Malcolm man,
And make it rime and make it prim.
The verse will die—as all men do—
but not the memory of him!
Death might come singing sweet like C,
Or knocking like the old folk say,
The moon and stars may pass away,
But not the anger of that day.

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

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