Sonia Sanchez Sanchez, Sonia (Vol. 5) - Essay

Sanchez, Sonia (Vol. 5)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Sanchez, Sonia 1934–

Ms Sanchez is a Black American poet and playwright. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 33-36.)

Sonia Sanchez … is concerned with black identity. Within this framework, however, she manages to achieve an amazingly wide variety of treatments. [She] feels that the return to black identity is a "home-coming" (the title, by the way, of her first published volume of verse) after a sojourn in a white-oriented society geared to UN-black the Black man—to mold him to a white standard of values. (p. 31)

As a protest poet,… Sonia Sanchez chooses themes from a wide range of the so-called "black experience." Her poems, however, are … personalized. She uses the first person "i"… frequently, and equates the black experience within the realm of her own identity as a black woman. Nevertheless, she is never maudlin. "A poet must never succumb to self-pity," she says. Self-pity spells the death of poetry. Her poems are strong, direct, and forcefully articulate in the free verse idiom of contemporary verse. (pp. 33-4)

R. Roderick Palmer, "The Poetry of Three Revolutionists: Don L. Lee, Sonia Sanchez, and Nikki Giovanni," in C. L. A. Journal (copyright, 1971 by the College Language Association), September, 1971, pp. 25-36.

[Sonia Sanchez] is an upfront woman, witty, bright, black, and utterly devoted to those revolutionary ideals she sees as the best hope for Black people. Her poems are raps, good ones, aimed like guns at whatever obstacles she detects standing in the way of Black progress. (p. 45)

Her praises are as generous as her criticisms are severe, both coming from loyalties that are fierce, invulnerable, and knowing. Whether she's addressing her praises to Gwendolyn Brooks or to the late Malcolm X, to her husband or to a stranger's child, always they emerge from and feed back into the shared experience of being Black. (p. 46)

William Pitt Root, in Poetry (© 1973 by The Modern Poetry Association; reprinted by permission of the Editor of Poetry), October, 1973.