Beacon Press: Morning Haiku
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Morning Haiku

Author: Sonia Sanchez

From a leading writer of the Black Arts Movement, poems of commemoration and loss for readers of all ages

This new volume by the much-loved poet Sonia Sanchez, her first in over a decade, is music to the ears: a collection of haiku that celebrates the gifts of life and mourns the deaths of revered African American figures in the worlds of music, literature, art, and activism. In her verses, we hear the sounds of Max Roach “exploding in the universe,” the “blue hallelujahs” of the Philadelphia Murals, and the voice of Odetta “thundering out of the earth.” Sanchez sings the praises of contemporaries whose poetic alchemy turns “words into gems“: Maya Angelou, Richard Long, and Toni Morrison. And she pays homage to peace workers and civil rights activists from Rosa Parks and Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm to Brother Damu, founder of the National Black Environmental Justice Network. Often arranged in strings of twelve or more, the haiku flow one into the other in a steady song of commemoration. Sometimes deceptively simple, her lyrics hold a very powerful load of emotion and meaning.

There are intimate verses here for family and friends, verses of profound loss and silence, of courage and resilience. Sanchez is innovative, composing haiku in new forms, including a section of moving two-line poems that reflect on the long wake of 9/11. In a brief and personal opening essay, the poet explains her deep appreciation for haiku as an art form. With its touching portraits and by turns uplifting and heartbreaking lyrics, Morning Haiku contains some of Sanchez’s freshest, most poignant work.
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“Only a poet with an innocent heart can exorcise so much pain with so much beauty.”-Isabel Allende

“[Sonia Sanchez] played an important role in the civil-rights and Black Art movements and has read her poetry all over the world. That poetry is full of history, music, and song.”-John Timpane, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Sonia Sanchez’s latest book resonates as boldly as a jazz ensemble; clear and poignant, it is intransigent in her subject matter. Her impassioned reflections come in the loose form of the American haiku. . . . Sanchez’s haiku is as simple and clear as breathing, but with everything that brings energy and vivacity to being alive.”-Abby Travis, Rain Taxi Review of Books

“In all her words, Sanchez grabs your heart.” -Julia Chance, Vibe

14 haiku (for Emmett Louis Till)

1. Your limbs buried in northern muscle carry their own heartbeat

2. Mississippi alert with conjugated pain

3. young Chicago stutterer whistling more than flesh

4. your pores wild stars embracing southern eyes

5. foot prints blooming in the night remember your blood

6. in this southern classroom summer settles into winter

7. i hear your pulse swallowing neglected light

8. your limbs fly off the ground little birds

9. we taste the blood ritual of southern hands

10. blue midnite breaths sailing on smiling tongues

11. say no words time is collapsing in the woods

12. a mother’s eyes remembering a cradle pray out loud

13. walking in Mississippi i hold the stars between my teeth

14. your death a blues, i could not drink away.


  • Click here to read of Sonia Sanchez's selection as Philadelphia's first Poet Laureate on December 29, 2011 in the Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Click here to read an interview with Sanchez on The Washington Post blog, The Roots
  • Sanchez appeared on Democracy Now! in a segment called "Remembering Amiri Baraka," 1/10/14
  • Watch Sonia Sanchez's interview on the Tavis Smiley Show including a dramatic reading of one of her haikus

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Morning Haiku

ISBN: 978-080700131-8
Publication Date: 1/25/2011
Pages: 120
Size:5.5 x 8.5 Inches (US)
Price:  $14.00
Format: Paperback
Availability: In stock.