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Monday, February 22, 2010

Poets of the 1970's

When I sat down to begin this post (at least three different times) I struggled to decide what to write about. After meeting with Mrs. Lewis to ease my frustrations, we decided that I should focus on what women were doing in poetry.

Mrs Lewis made the wonderful suggestion to look at Sonia Sanchez. She became particularly fabulous in my eyes when I learned that she was born September 9, 1934 meaning that we have the same birthday..we're just a few years apart. Sanchez spent a great deal of her time in New York. She moved to Harlem with her sister in 1943 and did post graduate work at NYU after attending Hunter College. Sanchez formed a writers workshop in Greenwich village attended by many influential poets of the Black Arts Movement, including Amiri Baraka who I mentioned in my last post. She also formed the "Broadside Quartet" of young poets, which was introduced and promoted by Dudley Randall, who was also mentioned in my last blog post. Sonia married Albert Sanchez, and in spite of their divorce, she used his surname in her writing. She was briefly married to Etheridge Knight, an incredibly well known poet of the Black Arts Movement. In 1971, she briefly joined the nation of Islam but left the faith because of their repression of women. Sanchez was certainly not a woman to be repressed. Her list of accomplishments is almost as long as one of her more than 12 books of poetry. She's published both plays and children's books, receiving many many awards for her accomplishments. I am now inspired to read her book "Homegirls and Handgrenades" simply because of the fantastic title.

Another woman who was important in the Black Arts Movement is Nikki Giovanni. She was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on June 7, 1943. She was raised in Cincinnati Ohio and attended Fisk University. Giovanni used her African American identity to inspire her poetry. She received countless awards not only for her writing but for her strong character. She is an inspiration to all women because she made a name for herself as a poet and writer and survived lung cancer. She is currently a professor of English and Black Studies at Virginia Tech.

It was very hard to become inspired enough to write this post. Thanks to my teacher and librarian I got some great ideas. This Nikki Giovanni poem is all about libraries and librarians.


  1. Thank you Christine you are the first person I've seen write a relaxed post and are easing my frustrations by doing so. I like reading about strong women and getting inspired by them so I'm really happy you decided to write about these two poets. Sanchez seems like such a leader because of the two poetry/writing groups she formed and I think it's really interesting that Giovanni is still living and contributing her knowledge to a new generation.

  2. I think this post is great. It's relaxed, honest, and has a really great them running throughout. Reading about all these strong African-American women has really been inspiring, especially this post. I find that Giovanni and Sanchez are great inspirations, as well as great poets.