Transcript: Poems on Air, Episode 70 - Sonia Sanchez

The following transcript is provided for accessibility only. Layout, formatting, and typography of poems may differ from the original text. We recommend referring to the original, published works when possible to experience the poems as intended by their authors.

[Music intro]

LYNNE THOMPSON: Hello! My name is Lynne Thompson, Poet Laureate for the City of Los Angeles and I’m so happy to welcome listeners to this installment of Poems on Air, a podcast supported by the Los Angeles Public Library. Every week, I’ll present the work of poets I admire, poets who you should know, and poets who have made a substantial and inimitable contribution to the art and craft of poetry.

LYNNE THOMPSON: Sonia Sanchez, lovingly referred to by many as “Mama Sonia”, was a leading figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 60s and was the Laura Carnell Chair in English at Temple University until her retirement in 1999. The recipient of multiple awards including the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities and a National Endowment for the Arts Award, among others, she received the Gish Lifetime Achievement Honor in 2021 and the Jackson Poetry Prize in 2022. Never overawed by laurels, Sanchez, age 87, says “there’s still work to do”.

LYNNE THOMPSON: Today’s poem is Ballad (after the spanish) by Sonia Sanchez.


(after the spanish)

forgive me if I laugh
you are so sure of love
you are so young
and i too old to learn of love

the rain exploding
in the air is love
the grass excreting her
green wax is love
and stones remembering
past steps is love,
but you. You are too young
for love 
and i too old.

Once. What does it matter
When or who, I knew
of love.
i fixed my body
under his and went
to sleep in love
all trace of me
was wiped away

forgive me if i smile
Young heiress of a naked dream
You are so young
and i too old to learn of love.

LYNNE THOMPSON: The Los Angeles Poet Laureate was created as a joint program between the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles Public Library and this podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening!

[Music outro]

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  • DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a certified or verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting, subject to the inherent limitations of real-time captioning. The primary focus of real-time captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable, acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding. Transcript provided by the author.