Sonia Sanchez is a lion in literature’s forest. When she writes she roars, and when she sleeps other creatures walk gingerly. ~ Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was spot on when she called Sonia Sanchez “a lion in literature’s forest.” From one literary giant to another, Sanchez is a force of nature. She’s a writer, poet, playwright, professor, and activist. A strong proponent of Black history, literature, and culture, women’s liberation, racial justice, and peace, Sanchez has inspired generations of writers, activists, and academics in the struggle.
If you’ve been following my blog, it’s no secret how much of an influence she’s had on me. So when I found out that the documentary BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez would be screened in DC on the opening night of the African Diaspora International Film Festival (“Where Black Life Matters On The Big Screen!”), I jumped at the opportunity to support it. And I’m so glad I did.
BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, a riveting documentary by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, celebrates Sanchez and her contributions as one of the most influential writers of the Black Arts Movement. It chronicles her life – the personal, professional, and the political. Interwoven throughout the documentary are Sanchez in her element–performing her work with a live jazz band, along with readings and commentary by Amiri Baraka (Rest in Power), Nikki Giovanni, Haki Madhubuti,Ursula Rucker, jessica Care moore, Ruby Dee (Rest in Power), Talib Kweli, and Ayana Mathis, to name a few. Their interpretations of her writing and what she means to the world showcase the tremendous beauty, power, magic, depth, and influence of her work.
One (of several) elements I loved about BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez is that it shows Sanchez–the artist–at work. This level of intimacy is something we don’t often get to see of creatives. Truly a treasure to behold. Leaves one wondering if what she was writing in the documentary ends up in her next volume of poetry. One can hope.
During the Q+A that followed the showing, Sanchez dropped several gems about the struggle and the importance of work. She said, “Nothing changes unless you work… You have to do the work.” This statement is so relevant to issues of personal and societal concern today. Entitlement doesn’t bring change or reward. If you want something in this life, you have to work for it. If it’s something that truly matters, playing your part is essential. Her words serve as a testament to why she and other artists of the Black Arts Movement are so significant. They not only created work that touched the hearts of many, but they also did the work that was critical to changing the world.
And what’s a better way to top off your night by speaking and taking a picture with one of your biggest inspirations?
Me with writer, poet, playwright, professor, and activist, Sonia Sanchez
Thank you Sonia Sanchez for your spirit, strides, and all the blessings you’ve given to the world. You are phenomenal!
If BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez is showing in your town, please go and support it. Also check the listings for your local PBS station, as there may be a showing in the near future.
Personal and educational copies of BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez can be rented or purchased from the California Newsreel site.