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Literature's 'Lion in the Forest' to Deliver Forrest Lecture

“An Evening with Poet and Activist Sonia Sanchez” scheduled Feb. 28

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January 25, 2013 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Sonia Sanchez -- a pillar of the Black Arts Movement in the early 1970s and a celebrated writer, poet, activist and scholar today -- will deliver the 12th annual Leon Forrest Lecture Thursday, Feb. 28, at Northwestern University.

“An Evening with Poet and Activist Sonia Sanchez” will take place at 5:15 p.m. in the auditorium (Room 217) of Fisk Hall, 1845 Sheridan Road, on the Evanston campus. Free and open to the public, it will be followed by a reception, book signing and live music.

The author of “Homecoming,” “Shake Loose My Skin” and dozens of other books, Sanchez has lectured at hundreds of American universities and colleges and read her poetry in Africa, Europe, Australia, Cuba, Nicaragua and the People’s Republic of China. Her collection “We BaddDDD People” focused on black dialect as a poetic medium.

The recipient of the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry, Sanchez remains one of the most read, respected and active figures of the Black Arts Movement. Essence magazine has called her poetry “a must for all readers” while writer Maya Angelou has called Sanchez “a lion in literature’s forest.”

Her dramas, like her poetry, reflect the racism and sexism that Sanchez encountered as a young woman writer. In 2012, at age 77, she became Philadelphia’s first official poet laureate.

Never timid, civil rights activist Sanchez was arrested in 2006 as part of a group of elderly women war protesters known as the Granny Peace Brigade. Asked by a reporter what she and her peace brigade colleagues would have done had they been conscripted as soldiers, Sanchez replied, “We would have done push-ups for peace.”

Sachez is editor of two anthologies: “We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans” and “360 (degrees) of Blackness Coming At You.” In 1995, she earned the American Book Award for “Homegirls and Handgrenades.” Four years later, she was awarded the Langston Hughes Poetry Award.

Northwestern’s Forrest Lecture celebrates the life and work of the late novelist and beloved professor Leon Forrest, professor of English and, from 1985 to 1994, chair of African American studies. Past Forrest Lecturers include Danny Glover, Jamaica Kincaid and Henry Louis Gates Jr. as well as Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, who edited Forrest's first novel.

For more about the event sponsored by the African American studies department in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the Northwestern Black Alumni Association, visit http://www.afam.northwestern.edu/index.html or call (847) 491-5122.

Topics: Campus Life