Walk Beautifully

In 2004, my husband (then boyfriend) and I attended a Martin Luther King celebration at the University of the District of Columbia.  It was the beginning of the second semester of our first year of law school and we had no business being anywhere but the library.  However, it was also the beginning of our relationship so in an effort to score brownie points (and other things new boyfriends hope to score) he convinced me to go by stating one simple fact: Sonia Sanchez would be there. 
My favorite poet. 

Understand, I have loved Ms. Sanchez since I was a teenager.  I remember reading about the Black Arts Movement and learning about her, Nikki Giovanni, Amri Baraka and all the trailblazers of black literature and art in the late sixties and seventies, a time when art was an underutilized but amazingly powerful means of resistance.  Nothing communicated the sentiment of the civil rights struggle better than art.  I remember wanting to pump my fist and write poems about injustice and mourning civil rights leaders that were assassinated long before I was even alive.  I loved it all but I really loved Ms. Sanchez.

For me, Sonia Sanchez's words have always had a pulse.  A tangible beat with shapes and sounds that jump off paper and reach into your soul.  She takes me everywhere and to everything... even when I am sitting still.  If you have ever heard her perform her poetry, you can feel it.  She closes her eyes and releases sounds that come from places deep within her.  It is beautiful.

So - with my worn copy of Shake Loose My Skin in my hand, I waited in line to meet Ms. Sanchez like a child waiting up for Christmas.  My palms were sweaty, my mind was racing, and I had so many things I wanted to say.  Dancing... For Sweet Honey in the Rock... Poem No. 3...  you inspired me, you lifted me, you made me want to write poetry, you filled me with pride...
But instead...
My mouth went dry and I stammered, "I... uh... you don't understand... I luh you, uh, here my book..."  To this day, my husband lies and tells me it wasn't that bad but I assure you it was.  Almost ten years later, I can still see her assistant standing beside her unable to contain his laughter.

What can I say, I'm a fan. 

I dug Shake Loose My Skin out of my bookcase the other day.  I was looking for a poem to send to a friend who needed some good words in her life. I was flipping through the book when I was side tracked by her autograph.  She wrote: Walk beautifully, my sister! In love/struggle/peace, Sonia Sanchez.  
I smiled to myself and I have been holding my head a little higher ever since. 
Apparently I needed some good words too.
Walk beautifully, folks.

Love and Light,


  1. Oh my. On my blog, my blogroll is titled "Homegirls and Handgrenades" in honor of the great Sonia Sanchez. I had the pleasure to meet her, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou and June Jordan at a writers conference in New York back in the 80's. It is one of those memories that will forever be with me. (Taking your post here, I think I might write a post myself about that time, if you don't mind). I'll be sure to link back here. ;)

  2. Dina, that is one of the first things I noticed about your page and was honored when I made the list :-). I can't wait to read your post about the conference! That sounds AMAZING.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts