Discipline: Literature – poetry

Sonia Sanchez

Discipline: Literature – poetry
Region: Philadelphia, PA

Medalist: 2022 Medal Day

Poet. Mother. Professor. National and International lecturer on Black Culture and Literature, Women’s Liberation, Peace and Racial Justice. Sponsor of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Board Member of MADRE.

Read our announcement of the 62nd Annual Edward MacDowell Medal

Sonia Sanchez is the author of more than 20 books including Homecoming, We a BaddDDD People, Love Poems, I’ve Been a Woman, A Sound Investment and Other Stories, Homegirls and Handgrenades (winner of the 1985 American Book Award), Under a Soprano Sky, Wounded in the House of a Friend (Beacon Press 1995), Does Your House Have Lions? (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Beacon Press, 1997), Like the Singing Coming off the Drums (Beacon Press, 1998), Shake Loose My Skin (Beacon Press, 1999), Morning Haiku (Beacon Press, 2010), and most recently, Collected Poems (Beacon Press, 2021). In addition to being a contributing editor to Black Scholar and The Journal of African Studies, she has edited an anthology, We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans. BMA: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review is the first African American Journal that discusses the work of Sonia Sanchez and the Black Arts Movement.

She is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Peace and Freedom Award from W.I.L.P.F., a PEW Fellowship in the Arts, and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award in 1999, the Harper Lee Award, the Alabama Distinguished Writer award, the National Visionary Leadership Award, the Leeway Foundation Transformational Award, and the Robert Creeley Award. She is the Poetry Society of America’s 2001 Robert Frost Medalist and a Ford Freedom Scholar from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

In addition to having lectured at more than 500 universities and colleges in the United States, she has read her poetry in Africa, Cuba, England, the Caribbean, Australia, Europe, Nicaragua, the People’s Republic of China, Norway, and Canada. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University and she held the Laura Carnell Chair in English at Temple University. Her poetry also appeared in the 1997 Theodore Witcher film Love Jones.

Sonia Sanchez is one of 20 African American women featured in “Freedom Sisters,” an interactive exhibition created by the Cincinnati Museum Center and Smithsonian Institution that traveled the country for six years. In December of 2011, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter selected Sonia Sanchez as Philadelphia’s first Poet Laureate, calling her “the longtime conscience of the city.” BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, a documentary about Sanchez’s life as an artist and activist by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, was nominated for a 2017 Emmy. She is the winner of the 2016 Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America, the Wallace Stevens Award in 2018 presented by the Academy of American Poets, and the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. In 2021, Sanchez was awarded The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.

Visit our Medal Day history page

Portrait courtesy of The Beacon Press