Wounded in the House of a Friend.Sonia Sanchez Sonia Sanchez is an African American poet most often associated with the Black Arts Movement. Born Wilsonia Benita Driver in Birmingham, Alabama on September 9, 1934, she has authored over a dozen books of poetry, as well as plays and children's books. . Wounded in the House of a Friend Boston: Beacon, 1995, 105 pp. $15.00.
Sonia Sanchez's latest collection of poetry Wounded in the House of a Friend, published in April 1995, reached a second printing in May, a third in the summer, and a fourth by the fall of the same year. The reading audience's interest in this collection, whose attraction begins with a provocative title, reflects the polemics po·lem·ics
n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
1. The art or practice of argumentation or controversy.
2. The practice of theological controversy to refute errors of doctrine. , thematic range, emotional depth, and innovative poetic craftsmanship .that make Wounded in the House of a Friend Sanchez's most powerful collection.
Although Wounded addresses many of the same issues Sanchez raises in her previous collections--Homecoming, We a Baddddd People, Love Poems, A Blues Book for Blue Black Magical Women, I've Been a Woman, homegirls & handgrenades, and Under a Soprano Sky--in this new collection the author pushes the range of her creative talents by striking an impressive balance between awakening political consciousness and using her imagination to order or shape words and create sounds that represent the highest degree of poetic art. Dedicating the collection to her friends Alice Walker Noun 1. Alice Walker - United States writer (born in 1944)
Alice Malsenior Walker, Walker (Aliciacita) and Robert Allen Robert Allen may refer to:
1. An inscription, as on a statue or building.
2. A motto or quotation, as at the beginning of a literary composition, setting forth a theme. at the beginning of the entire collection as well as before each part. Having awakened from a dream reciting the words "wounded in the house of a friend," Sanchez discovered that the line appears in the Bible (Zechariah 13.6). She uses the phrase both for the title of the collection and the signature poem that opens Part I.
The title poem, divided into two sets, comprises all of Part I of the collection. A combination of prose, poetry, and drama, this piece fulfills the mission set forth in the epigraph from Frantz Fanon Frantz Fanon (July 20, 1925 – December 6, 1961) was an author from Martinique, essayist, psychoanalyst, and revolutionary. He was perhaps the preeminent thinker of the 20th century on the issue of decolonization and the psychopathology of colonization. which introduces the poem:
I have only one solution: to rise
above this absurd drama that
others have staged around me.
In this very painful poem about wounded love, deceit, rejection, and betrayal, Sanchez gives voice to both the betrayed woman and the deceitful man in language that is raw, undecorated, and stripped to the bone, allowing the female voice to rise from the drama created for her, strengthened with "MEAT ON [HER] SOUL." Part II of this poem is linguistically different from Part I. Labeled "Set No. 2," this section is a blues song in which the layaway An agreement between a retail seller and a consumer that provides that the seller will retain designated consumer goods for sale to the consumer at a specified price on a future date, if the consumer deposits with the seller an agreed upon sum of money. man represents the betrayer, and the singer the betrayed lover. Traditionally, we have thought of the blues as a wailing chant of sadness that records a lover's defeat. In this poem Sanchez uses the blues to suggest the woman's coming to terms with the reality of her life. The betrayed lover's characterizing her lover as a layaway man and giving their love the status of an installment plan demonstrate the woman's understanding of the insignificant role she has played in her lover's life.
Having put meat on her soul, the woman has now overcome/survived the duplicity DUPLICITY, pleading. Duplicity of pleading consists in multiplicity of distinct matter to one and the same thing, whereunto several answers are required. Duplicity may occur in one and the same pleading. and synchronism synchronism /syn·chro·nism/ (sing´krah-nizm) synchrony.synchron´ic, syn´chronous
Coincidence in time; simultaneousness. Also called synchronia. of her jazz-like life and reshaped or redefined herself through a blues solo. Characteristically, Sanchez in this four-stanza set imprints her own style onto the typical blues form by using one traditional quatrain quat·rain
A stanza or poem of four lines.
[French, from Old French, from quatre, four, from Latin quattuor; see kwetwer- in Indo-European roots. , descriptive of the blues, and adding to it three three-line stanzas. The interrelated in·ter·re·late
tr. & intr.v. in·ter·re·lat·ed, in·ter·re·lat·ing, in·ter·re·lates
To place in or come into mutual relationship.
in phrases layaway man and installment plan, which have multiple connotations, carry the meaning of "Set No. 1" and bring closure to it. Dividing the poem into sets, a word used to describe a jazz composition, Sanchez calls attention to the manner in which the poem orchestrates its multiple voices (the betrayed lover's, the betrayer's, and the poet's). The poet linguistically represents this multiplicity by using regular and italic print, and dramatically sets off a portion of the poem in a way that suggests dialogue in a play. The poet, of course, stands outside the drama manipulating the outcome.
The tone of "Wounded" echoes the degree to which the singer has survived her pain. This tone of strength and survival, along with Sanchez's unadulturated depiction of pain and anger ("you can't keep his dick in / your purse"), introduces the kind of honesty the reader can expect from the entire collection. The reader who makes the mistake of thinking that Sanchez is writing exclusively about her own experiences misses considerably the power and range of her creative abilities. Even a cursory glance at her poetry from Homecoming to this new collection reveals that she has always written about the most personal of issues and confirms her idea that the personal is political.
This interrelationship in·ter·re·late
tr. & intr.v. in·ter·re·lat·ed, in·ter·re·lat·ing, in·ter·re·lates
To place in or come into mutual relationship.
in is nowhere more obvious than in the five occasional poems that appear in Wounded. This collection contains more poems that highlight and comment positively on the accomplishments of famous contemporary African Americans than any of Sanchez's previous volumes. "Catch the Fire," "On the Occasion of Essence's Twenty-fifth Anniversary," "A Love Song for Spelman," "Sweet Honey In the Rock Sweet Honey in the Rock is an all-woman, African-American a cappella ensemble that has been producing music for more than 30 years.
Although the members of the group have changed over time, their music has consistently combined contemporary rhythms and narratives with a ," and "Introduction of Toni Morrison Noun 1. Toni Morrison - United States writer whose novels describe the lives of African-Americans (born in 1931)
Chloe Anthony Wofford, Morrison , and Others, on the Occasion of the Publication of Her Book Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill For other persons with this name, see .
Anita Faye Hill (born July 30 1956 ) is a professor of social policy, law, and women's studies at Brandeis University at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management , Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality" emerge as far more than poems that feature the accomplishments of Bill Cosby, Susan Taylor, Johnnetta Cole, Bernice Reagan, and Toni Morrison, respectively. At the core of these poems is Sanchez's condemnation of slavery and its many effects, of drug abuse, of the abuse of children, of black-on-black crime, of Black self-hatred, and of the mental and physical abuse of women as well as her celebration of Black women and Black life and history (in Africa and the diaspora).
Though Sanchez addresses a diverse range of issues, Wounded in the House of a Friend has a tremendously strong female voice and is far more disagreeably precise in its castigation of the abuse of women, especially in such pieces as "Eyewitness: Case No. 3456." From the first line of this prose piece, which begins "i was raped at 3 o'clock one morning," to the end, where the raped woman runs out of her house with blood running down her legs, this piece challenges both male and female readers' ability to discipline their passion to the same degree that the poet disciplines hers. Because the poet has the rapist speak in his own voice, prose provides her with the flexibility she needs to allow the rapist to reveal his true nature through his own dialogue.
While "Eyewitness: Case No. 3456" reflects the courage Sanchez demonstrates by bringing highly sensitive issues to her reading audience, she continues her conflation (database) conflation - Combining or blending of two or more versions of a text; confusion or mixing up. Conflation algorithms are used in databases. of the sharp demarcations between poetry and prose that first appeared in homegirls & handgrenades in "Eyewitness," "A Remembrance" (which records Sanchez's reaction to James Baldwin's death), "Nicaraguan Journal," and "Homegirls on St. Nicholas." Sanchez's most stylistically innovative collection, Wounded in the House of a Friend ends with the poet's haiku haiku (hī`k), an unrhymed Japanese poem recording the essence of a moment keenly perceived, in which nature is linked to human nature. and tanka tan·ka 1
A Japanese verse form in five lines, the first and third composed of five syllables and the rest of seven.
[Japanese. poems and with "Improvization," an intensely creative poem that echoes the 1960s and demonstrates the maturity of Sanchez's craft.
Twenty-five years separate the publication of Sanchez's "a/coltrane/poem," which appears at the end of We a Baddddd People, and "Improvization." Stylistically, these poems are very similar in their use of typography to approximate the rhythm of the jazz musician's horn. Yet, while "a/coltrane/poem" is loosely scattered all over the page, "Improvization" is tight and elongated e·lon·gate
tr. & intr.v. e·lon·gat·ed, e·lon·gat·ing, e·lon·gates
To make or grow longer.
adj. or elongated
1. Made longer; extended.
2. Having more length than width; slender. , using repetition to achieve rhythm, as in the following lines:
It was the coming
It was the coming that was bad
It was it was it was the coming across the ocean that was bad
This five-page poem contains approximately sixty-two different words, quite a small number given the fact that it is quite easy to put at least one hundred words on a single page. In these few words, the poet relives the experience of slavery and affirms Black survival in the past, present, and future, as exemplified in the line "I was I shall be I was I am." Just as the Black experience is diachronic di·a·chron·ic
Of or concerned with phenomena as they change through time. and synchronic syn·chron·ic
2. Of or relating to the study of phenomena, such as linguistic features, or of events of a particular time, without reference to their historical context. , the style of the poem connects "Improvization" to the virtuoso use of repetition and enumerating that characterize African-American poetry of the 1960s and to the contemporary, sophisticated orality orality /oral·i·ty/ (or-al´it-e) the psychic organization of all the sensations, impulses, and personality traits derived from the oral stage of psychosexual development.
n. of African-American poetry. "Improvization," of course, like the Coltrane poem, illustrates Sanchez's use of jazz music and technique for poetic rhythm. And as the title suggests, this rhythm is flexible and fluid.
The fluidity and innovative quality of "Improvization" also describes Sanchez's haiku and tanka poems. Japanese in origin, the haiku consists of three unrhymed Adj. 1. unrhymed - not having rhyme; "writing unrhymed blank verse is like playing tennis without a net"
rhymeless, rimeless, unrimed
rhymed, rhyming, riming - having corresponding sounds especially terminal sounds; "rhymed verse"; "rhyming words" lives of five, seven, and five syllables respectively, and the tanka consists of thirty-one syllables, arranged in five lines with the first and third lines consisting of five syllables and the other lines consisting of seven. Typically used to "arouse a distinct emotion and suggest a specific spiritual insight," the haiku emerges as a natural form to attract Sanchez's attention. In fact, these short verses that require strict, skilled linguistic discipline have appeared consistently in her collections since the publication of I've Been a Woman in 1978. In Wounded in the House of a Friend, however, Sanchez introduces her own form, which she names the Sonku:
have mercy on the
woman who can't hold
her breath cuz the man's
gon take her for a
long ride to the deep.
Each of these five lines consists of five syllables exactly. And this is the only poem in this section with a regular meter. All of the other poems--tanka and haiku--also alter the traditional number of syllables. This Sonku, like all the other tanka and haiku in Wounded, addresses issues that are particularly feminine, especially the pain women experience as a result of betrayal or abuse.
Sanchez's consistent fondness for the haiku reflects the serious attention she gives to precision. While a few of the poems in her previous collection entitled Under a Soprano Sky depend upon images and allusions too obscure for the reader to comprehend, Wounded in the House of a Friend presents challenges, mysteries, and ambiguities. And rather than leaving the reader solely perplexed, these new queries leave us with the idea that some of Sanchez's lines must be reread Verb 1. reread - read anew; read again; "He re-read her letters to him"
read - interpret something that is written or printed; "read the advertisement"; "Have you read Salman Rushdie?" and contemplated over time. Perhaps nothing illuminates her peculiar shaping of language more than the title of this latest collection. Most of us would expect to be wounded in the house of an enemy, not in the house of a friend. This twist of the normal reflects Sanchez's adroit use of words to provoke her readers to question the perfunctory acceptance of all forms of abuse, drug addiction, oppression, poverty, and all isms.
Having helped to establish the first Black Studies Department at San Francisco State University • • [ in the late 1960s and thus having written and taught Black literature and poetry for at least thirty years, Sanchez has not only had a long time to hone her skills, but she has also made an indelible mark on the future of African-American poetry both inside and outside the classroom.