Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mother Sanchez & Vertigo

I had the pleasure of attending a book signing event over the weekend. First, I should mention that Vertigo Books celebrated its 15th Anniversary; the event was hosted by Bridget Warren. Bridget is a very nice lady and works very hard to bring to us renowned and not so known authors from around the world. I especially love Vertigo’s title selection, which focuses on African, African American, Caribbean, and Latino literature. I first visited the store in 1996 when it was located in downtown Washington, D.C. (DuPont Circle). The stores present location is in College Park, adjacent to the University of Maryland campus.

Now, the highlight of this event was a visit from poet, activist, and Professor Sonia Sanchez. Your boy Stephen Bess was in the front row! Smile. I had to get there early. I have admired this woman for years since my college days in Savannah where I first learned of her work. She didn’t wait for her introduction upon arriving and immediately started chatting with the crowd that was already in attendance. Finally, the place was filled with her fans. Professor Sanchez asked for extra chairs and immediately started directing people to their seats. One could immediately recognize her as the mother, grandmother, and auntie that she is. She also recognized former students and other writers in attendance, including poet and social activist, Tony Medina. I just watched and smiled.

Professor Sanchez shared with us her upcoming trial on December 1, 2006 in Philadelphia. Why? Well, she got arrested for protesting the war with an organization called, Grannies for Peace. Sonia Sanchez, along with the other 10 women who protested, was charged with Defiant Trespassing. She is asking for the support of everyone that can attend. Professor Sanchez also spoke on the importance of supporting our young people (especially young writers). She told some of the young people in the crowd, “THIS IS YOUR CENTURY!” She went on to state that young people need to “understand their history and herstory.” She also spoke about young upcoming poets and Hip Hop artist. She implored older and establish writers to “give inspiration to young writers.”

Professor Sanchez also shared some of her works and spoke candidly about her relationship with her father and brother. Despite the emotions that were attached to some of the poems, she went on to read more than 3 of them in length. I wanted to buy all of her books and some, but my budget permitted me to only purchase her book, Does Your House Have Lions? In the end, I was happy. I got my book signed and said my special hello to Professor Sonia Sanchez. I expressed my love and appreciation for her work and I let her keep my pen that she signed my book with. Well, she laughed and said that she was going to keep it anyway. Thank you Professor Sanchez for blessing us with your presence and God bless you.

Check Bess Photos On Flickr for more photos of Sonia Sanchez
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