Sonia Sanchez’s poem “An Anthem” first appeared in 1987’s Under a Soprano Sky and later was included in Shake Loose My Skin (1999), a collection of previously published and new poems. “An Anthem” is written in free verse broken into stanzas of varying lengths. In it, Sanchez celebrates her African-American heritage with vibrant descriptions of dance and music. Alongside this celebration is a call for courage to stand up for peace and compassion. It is a poem of resilience that acknowledges some of the ills of the world without giving up hope or identity.
Sanchez uses many styles of writing in her poetry, ranging from haikus and sonnets to free verse. “An Anthem” is representative of her work in that the style suits the content, and the content is perfectly in line with her canon of work. Throughout her career, Sanchez has written about the importance of peace, even when pursuing it is uncomfortable or dangerous. Her writings about African-American themes often have a collective application, as “An Anthem” does. Although the speaker in the poem asks for personal courage, the word “we” dominates the poem.