WAMU 88.5 : News

Talking With Poet Sonia Sanchez

Play associated audio

When poet Sonia Sanchez performs her work, she doesn't just read her poetry. She sings, she moves, she stutters and chants, and she uses her poetry to tell emotional stories about tough social issues.

In the 1960s, when the literature was dominated by white writers, Sanchez became a powerful voice int he black arts movement.

She remembers the librarian that set her on her way. "She gave me three books. On the bottom, Up From Slavery. In the middle, Souls of Black Folk. On the top, Their Eyes Were Watching God. I said, but how could I have a degree and call myself an educated young woman and I haven't read these books?"

One of the trademarks of Sanchez's poetry is her use of the black vernacular of her childhood.

"My grandmother spoke in black English, in the kitchen she was cooking and humming and singing,"she says. "And when she said something to me, I would repeat what she said with that southern cadence."

Dr. Brenda Green, professor of English and executive director of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College in New York, says Sanchez's influence reaches far and wide. "She should be a part of the American literary canon," says Green.

Green is also the mother of well known hip hop artist Talib Kweli. She says hip hop artists like her son get inspiration from writers like Sanchez.

"People like Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Common, have looked to these artists and are actually sampling some of the songs and poetry created by the artists from the black artists movement," she says.

On his fourth album, Kweli even invited Sanchez to introduce the first track.

NPR

He Died At 32, But A Young Artist Lives On In LA's Underground Museum

When Noah Davis founded the museum, he wanted to bring world-class art to a neighborhood he likened to a food desert, meaning no grocery stores or museums. Davis died a year ago Monday.
NPR

The Strange, Twisted Story Behind Seattle's Blackberries

Those tangled brambles are everywhere in the city, the legacy of an eccentric named Luther Burbank whose breeding experiments with crops can still be found on many American dinner plates.
WAMU 88.5

State Taxes, School Budgets And The Quality Of Public Education

Budget cutbacks have made it impossible for many states to finance their public schools. But some have bucked the trend by increasing taxes and earmarking those funds for education. Taxes, spending and the quality of public education.

NPR

Surfers And Scientists Team Up To Create The 'Perfect Wave'

Surfers once deemed man-made waves weak and mushy compared to the best that break along the coast. Then engineers and an 11-time world champion surfer showed just how good an artificial wave can be.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.