Jackson Poetry Prize Celebration: Honoring Sonia Sanchez

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“One of the things we must do as poets is certainly to answer the most important question: What does it mean to be human?” says Sonia Sanchez, recipient of the 2022 Jackson Poetry Prize, in this virtual celebration with poets Mary Jo Bang, Marilyn Chin, and Claudia Rankine.

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BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez

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“I wanted to tell people how I became this woman with razor blades between her teeth.” BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, directed by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, chronicles the life and work of poet and political activist Sonia Sanchez, including her emergence as a seminal figure in the Black Arts Movement, her tireless political activism, and a poetry career so great Maya Angelou called her “a lion in literature’s forest.” Sanchez is the recipient of the 2022 Jackson Poetry Prize.

Tongo Eisen-Martin and Sonia Sanchez

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“All street life to a certain extent starts fair // Sometimes with a spiritual memory even,” reads Tongo Eisen-Martin from his poem “Kick Drum Only” in this virtual reading with poet, activist, and icon Sonia Sanchez celebrating the ninetieth anniversary of the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University.

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Writers Uncensored: Lucille Clifton and Sonia Sanchez

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“To love yourself so much you don’t wanna exploit anybody. Can you imagine not wanting to exploit anyone?” says Sonia Sanchez in her lecture to students in this 1991 episode of Writers Uncensored presented by the Lannan Foundation. This vintage episode features Sanchez and Lucille Clifton reading from their work and talking about their respective paths as poets.

Poetry in America

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“It’s what poetry can do—it can take us to other places, in a moment.” Cynthia Nixon and other cultural figures including Yo-Yo Ma, Joe Biden, Sonia Sanchez, Shaquille O’Neal, Edward Hirsch, and Bono are featured in this trailer for the public television series Poetry in America. Hosted by Harvard professor Elisa New, each episode explores and interprets a single American poem.

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