And the Beat Goes On: Sonia Sanchez and the Black Arts Movement

Poet.  Activist.  Professor. Lecturer. National Treasure.  These are just a few of the titles bestowed upon Sonia Sanchez.  She will be one of the headliners at the 6th Annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair on Saturday, June 30.  Her appearance is part of the book fair’s salute to the Black Arts Movement of the ‘60’s and 70’s.  This year’s book fair coincides with the 45th anniversary of Dale and Alonzo Davis’ opening of the Brockman Gallery in Leimert Park.  The Davis’ brothers will be awarded a resolution from the City of Los Angeles acknowledging their contribution to arts and culture that is still recognized as pivotal in elevating the impact of art. Activist Amiri Baraka will also be a recognized for his role in the Black Arts Movement.

Sanchez was one of the foremost figures of the Black Arts Movement , a term originally coined in 1968 by playwright and poet Larry Neal who proclaimed BAM as the “aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept."
Sanchez recalled during the early days of BAM, “A great outpouring of politically

Engaged African American Artists and art from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s.  All strands – the poetry, the playwriting, the painting, the music were all united by one belief in the need for a personal and social transformation of African Americans to really determine their own political and cultural destiny.

Sanchez says the residual effects of BAM are everywhere.  "That’s why you have people doing what they’re doing today.  That’s why you have these young people still poeting.  That is why we have the kind of music that we have.  That is why we have a Black president, believe it or not, because of the civil rights movement, and also a movement like BAM.  We still influence the world because the country and the world still tries to negate the power of the Black Arts Movement, how influential it was. It was Influential not only in this country, but in the Caribbean and on the continent of Africa.  We have influenced the world with the ideas of self determination and a sense of loving yourself and a sense of ‘if you love yourself, then you don’t hate anyone else.’   We have inspired the Black studies program, the Latino studies, the woman’s studies, Chicano studies, Jewish studies, all kinds of studies have come out of the sense of the Black Arts Movement."

At the Leimert Park Village Book Fair, Sanchez will be available to autograph her first book of new poetry in over a decade, Morning Haiku, Sanchez offers what she calls her “haikuography," reflecting on the beauty of both the extraordinary and ordinary.  "If you read me, you know that I have always written haikus in most of my books," Sanchez comments.  "I love the form because the haiku has no hatred in it, no greed, no surplus words, it gets to the core of the meaning and you can’t get away from it.  It’s like the sun shining down on you, sometimes you can’t escape it."


Sonia Sanchez—poet, activist, scholar—was the Laura Carnell Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Temple University. She is the recipient of both the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award. One of the most important writers of the Black Arts Movement, Sanchez is the author of sixteen books.


“Sonia Sanchez’s poetry is a must for all readers. Period.”
- Essence

“Sanchez’s haiku is as simple and clear as breathing, but with everything that brings energy and vivacity to being alive.”
- Rain Taxi Review of Books

“With an unblinking and critical poet’s eye, Sonia Sanchez has been setting her readers straight, telling the ‘terrible beauty,’ and reflecting images in ways that simultaneously solicit tears and laughter. For over thirty years this revolutionary poet has been undeterred from a path that began in the sixties. She has not given up the struggle to let her poetry be what she refers to as a ‘call to arms’ for her people.”
- Juanita Johnson-Bailey, Ms.

“Sonia Sanchez is a lion in literature’s forest. When she writes she roars, and when she sleeps other creatures walk gingerly.”
- Maya Angelou

“Sanchez’s powers of empathy shine with rare luminosity.”
- Paula Friedman, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“The poetry of Sonia Sanchez is full of power and yet always clean and uncluttered. It makes you wish you had thought those thoughts, felt those emotions and, above all, expressed them so effortlessly and so well.”
- Chinua Achebe

“In all her words, Sanchez grabs your heart.”
- Vibe

“This world is a better place because of Sonia Sanchez: more livable, more laughable, more manageable. I wish millions of people knew that some of the joy in their lives comes from the fact that Sonia Sanchez is writing poetry.”
- Maya Angelou
2:30 PM

Icons of the Black Arts Movement Speak:
Amiri Baraka, RAZOR: Revolutionary Art for Cultural Resolution
Dale and Alonzo Davis, Now Dig This! Art & Black LA 1960-1980
Sonia Sanchez, Homegirls and Handgrenades
Introductions: Ayuko Babu, Executive Director
Pan African Film Festival
Moderator: TBA