Wasatch Environmental Update; Sonia Sanchez, Poet Laureate of the National Park Service Centennial

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Wasatch Environmental Update for July 24, 2016

By John Worlock, Member of the Board of Directors of Save Our Canyons

“Sonia Sanchez, Poet Laureate of the National Park Service Centennial”

 

As part of its celebration this summer, the National Park Service has designated Sonia Sanchez as the poet laureate of the Centennial. She is often associated with the Black Arts Movement, and has been called poet, playwright, teacher, mentor, activist and warrior.

Sanchez can be expected to bring her powerful blend of art and activism to share the message that, in addition to breathtaking landscapes, the National Park System includes places of cultural heritage and the struggle for social justice and civil rights — places of inspiration, dialogue, and healing.

You might be interested in hearing some of her poetry, so here it is. She has written many short poems called haikus.

Haiku:

I turn westward in

shadows hoping my river

will cross yours in passing.

 

Blues Haiku:

you too slippery

for me. can’t hold you long or

hard. not enough nites.

 

Another Haiku, with another river:

mixed with day and sun

i crouched in the earth carry

you like a dark river.

 

Haiku:

there are things sadder

than you and I. some people

do not even touch.

 

A longer poem, simply called No. 8:

I’ve been a woman

with my legs stretched by the wind

rushing the day

thinking I heard your voice

while it was only the nite

moving over

to make room for the dawn.

 

And finally, a long powerful poem we don’t have time to read through, but it starts like this

 

I’m gonna stay on the battlefield

I’m gonna stay on the battlefield

I’m gonna stay on the battlefield til I die

 

Sanchez recites a variety of injustices and then moves to an incantation:

 

come, i say, come, and return to the fight

this fight for the earth

this fight for our children

this fight for our life

we need your hurricane voices

we need your sacred hands

 

i say, come, sister, brother to the battlefield

i say, come, wrap your feet around justice

i say, come, wrap your tongues around truth

i say, come, wrap your hands with deeds and prayer

 

Comecomecomecome to this battlefield

called life, called life, called life..

 

I’m gonna stay on the battlefield

I’m gonna stay on the battlefield

I’m gonna stay on the battlefield til I die.

 

National Park Service Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez.

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