Saturday, July 16, 2011

8 Lessons, Insights from the Sonia Sanchez Seminar

Two of our core Black Studies contributors, Cindy Lyles and Danielle Hall, participated in "Continuous Fire: A Seminar on the Poetry of Sonia Sanchez" from June 19 - 25. The seminar was coordinated by Joanne Gabbin's Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University in Virginia.

Cindy and Danielle were enthusiastic about all that they learned and experienced at the seminar. I recently asked them to identify a few key lessons they learned or what they gained through their time at the seminar.

"4 Lessons" by Cindy Lyles
1.) I learned that Sanchez wrote poetry in Black Vernacular English (BVE) as a way to assert the validity of Black people’s use of language and as a way to rebel against what is considered standard

2.) I gained the confidence to write in BVE also in my poetry, which was something I was reluctant to do because I didn’t want to be judged if I did.

3.) I gained insight into the activism found in Sanchez’ poetry--in support of women, Black people, and marginalized groups.

4.) I gained lasting connections w/ the academics and high school teachers at the seminar.

"4 Lessons" by Danielle Hall
1.) I gained the opportunity to meet and build lasting personal friendships and professional connections with leading scholars within a community of support and mentorship.

2.) In the most fundamental terms, I learned not to let anyone “box me in” or contain my scholarship and artistry, during a lecture with Professor John H. Bracey. This is something I had been battling. As a student of cultural history with a research emphasis on black women intellectuals, an interdisciplinary approach to Black Studies is essential.

3.) I learned a great deal about the poetics and political within Sanchez’s plays, which is another aspect of her career that is often overlooked. Black Drama, I also learned, is another area in Black Literature that needs further study.

4.) Attending the seminar has given me new ways of interpreting the past by looking at poets, particularly Sanchez, within a historical context and with the view of Sanchez as intellectual activist, as feminist, and as cultural historiographer in her works and politics.

Related content:
Black Studies Contributor Participates in Enriching Summer Program in Texas
Black Studies Contributors Attend Sonia Sanchez Seminar

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