I was awakened to Sonia Sanchez about 2-3 years ago when she became Philadelphia’s first poet laureate. In my opinion, she is a gem of American literature. Her poetry resonates and communicates to me on so many different levela. Each time I read one of her pieces I gain a new understanding of the piece. Its fresh every time; like reading it for the first time even though I may be reading it for the one hundredth.
Catch the Fire
(Sometimes I wonder:
What to say to you now
in the soft afternoon air as you
hold us all in a single death?)
Where is your fire?
Where is your fire?
You got to find it and pass it on.
You got to find it and pass it on
from you to me from me to her from her
to him from the son to the father from the
brother to the sister from the daughter to
the mother from the mother to the child.
Where is your fire? I say where is your fire?
Can’t you smell it coming out of our past?
The fire of living…not dying
The fire of loving…not killing
The fire of Blackness…not gangster shadows.
Where is our beautiful fire that gave light
to the world?
The fire of pyramids;
The fire that burned through the holes of
slaveships and made us breathe;
The fire that made guts into chitterlings;
The fire that took rhythms and made jazz;
The fire of sit-ins and marches that made
us jump boundaries and barriers;
The fire that took street talk sounds
and made righteous imhotep raps.
Where is your fire, the torch of life
full of Nzingha and Nat Turner and Garvey
and DuBois and Fannie Lou Hamer and Martin
and Malcolm and Mandela.
Sister/Sistah Brother/Brotha Come/Come
CATCH YOUR FIRE…DON’T KILL
HOLD YOUR FIRE…DON’T KILL
LEARN YOUR FIRE…DON’T KILL
BE THE FIRE…DON’T KILL
Catch the fire and burn with eyes
that see our souls:
Hey. Brother/Brotha. Sister/Sista.
Here is my hand.
Catch the fire…and live.
I’ve been enjoying Sonia Sanchez for so, so many years! Thanks for sharing! Have you read June Jordan? Mari Evans? I remember liking both very much, as well.
Beautiful. Haunting. Inspiring. Both the words and poet herself!
I just watched episode 9 of Lovecraft Country and this powerful piece of verse was featured prominently. It moved me so much I had to google it to find out what it was. I had never heard of Sonia Sanchez before. I am glad this show is exposing her to a new audience.