Poetic prof speaks ‘fiery’ words of peace
Sonia Sanchez performed her work while disucssing issues concerning minorities
November 30, 2010, 5:31 am · Updated November 30, 2010, 12:00 am·
A speaker dressed in red, a variety of soul food and passionate poetry made for a “FIRE” themed event Monday night.
The United Minorities Council and the Latino Coalition hosted Fiery Words: An Evening with Sonia Sanchez, in Claudia Cohen Hall.
The event focused on the theme of “FIRE,” an acronym for “Fostering Intercultural Relationships and Engagements.” In addition, the event included student performances from the African American Arts Alliance and the Excelano Project, Penn’s spoken word group.
The keynote speaker was Sonia Sanchez, a prolific black poet and professor who, according to UMC Vice Chairwoman and College senior Jacqueline Chaudhry, “embodies UMC’s theme of FIRE because she is able to speak to a variety of audiences about subjects important to the people of colored communities with real intensity and with fiery words.”
Sanchez focused on the importance of black literature, the rewards of teaching and her passion for peace. In one segment, she asked Chaudhry to join her in a demonstration that involved each of them touching each other’s hearts and listening to the other’s heartbeat. Sanchez expressed that if one can listen to another person’s heartbeat, one will find peace and refrain from violence.
Throughout the talk, Sanchez weaved in renditions of her poems, performing them in a rhythmic and musical manner.
According to Chaudhry, the event was supposed to be part of UMC’s Unity Week, but Cohen Hall was unavailable because Unity Week coincided with Michelle Obama’s visit. However, the UMC was able to reschedule the event as their last event for the 2010 year.
Many students felt the presentation was very profound. Elizabeth Park, a Nursing sophomore, felt that Sanchez’s presentation was “very raw, and in a sense, almost like a stream of consciousness.”
Second-year Africana Studies graduate student Wilfredo Gomez expressed how Sanchez’s talk about teachers resonated with him. “Teachers are your modern-day freedom fighters, training people to be c