Coming home to herself: Sonia Sanchez’s MORNING HAIKU

BY LAUREN MILLER

morning-haikumorning haiku is a testament to Sonia Sanchez’ perpetual offering of herself as she honors others and delivers her truths for devoted readers who have followed her since her revolutionary beginnings as a Black Power artist/activist and Black Studies creator. Sanchez’ utilization of a deceivingly simple poetic form is actually her self-pronounced homecoming to herself. Her personal connection to this short literary form, which she describes as a form that “make[s] you slow down and check out what’s happening in your life” began decades ago in a book store in New York City (morning haiku xiv). Sanchez grants recognition to social justice greats, including a set of haiku’s entitled For Freedom Sisters which honor an entourage of black women legends. Within this section we see her tenacity to the beauty and existence of powerful black womanhood:

1.

(Kathleen Cleaver)

quicksilver

panther woman speaking

in thunder

2.

(Charlayne Hunter-Gault)

summer silk woman

brushing the cobwebs

off Southern legs

3.

(Shirley Chisholm)

we saw your

woman sound    footprinting

congressional hallways

In addition to paying tribute to cultural, literary, and social transformers who paved the way for otherwise present impossibilities, Sanchez offers haikus on love, 9/11, and various art forms. In haiku potem: 1 year after 9/11 Sanchez inquisitively and hauntingly reflects:

Will these public deaths

result in private bloodletting?

sonia-sanchez-150x150Sanchez says that the haiku “is like the blues … offer[ing] no solutions, only a pronouncement” (morning haiku xiv). Comprehensively, it is obvious that morning haiku, Sanchez’ first publication in over a decade, illuminates inspiration as she extends her ever-present offering and reminder of awareness. Prefacing the haiku collection there resides a Sanchez quote:

Let me wear the day

Well so when it reaches you

You will enjoy it.

So, too, reader, will you enjoy this book of haikus that is cloaked in affect-driven reflection, affirmation of all that life delivers its participants, and the compelling energy inherent in each literary work constructed by the great Sonia Sanchez.

morning haiku
Sonia Sanchez
Beacon Press, 2010
104 pages
$19.95