Sonia Sanchez Honors Late Jazz Musician With Poem
MICHEL MARTIN, host:
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.
Just ahead, the design for the National Museum of African-American History and Culture has been selected. We'll speak with the leader of the winning design team in a moment, and one question we'll ask is: Does race matter in the selection of the design or design team? Should it matter? That's just ahead.
But first, we continue with our celebration of National Poetry Month, which we've been marking this month by bringing you the voices of an array of poets.
Today, Sonia Sanchez, a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. Sanchez described herself as a person who's been writing for many years, trying to answer the question: What does it mean to be human?
In August, 2007, her friend and fellow Philadelphian, jazz drummer Max Roach, died. Sonia Sanchez wrote this piece in commemoration of his passing. It's called "10 Haikus for Max Roach."
Ms. SONIA SANCHEZ (Poet; Professor, Temple University): One. Nothing ends. Every blade of grass remembering your sound, your sound exploding in the universe. Return to Earth in prayer. As you drummed, your hands kept reaching for God. The morning sky so lovely, imitates your laughter.
You came, warrior, clear, your music kissing our spines, feet tapping, singing impeach our blood. You came, drumming sweet life on sails of flesh. Your fast beat riding the air, settled in our bones.
Your drums soloing our breaths into the beat - unbeat - unto the beat - unbeat - unto the beat - unbeat. Your hands shimmering on the legs of rain, your hands, shimmering on the legs of rain.
A poem for Max Roach, and that last one, your hands shimmering on the legs of rain, is on his tombstone, up in the cemetery where he is buried with all the greats - Dizzy and Count Basie, and he's joined that great group of men who are buried there. So that was a great honor to be a part of that.
(Soundbite of music)
MARTIN: These poems are called "10 Haikus for Max Roach" by Sonia Sanchez. They can be found in her new book, "Morning Haiku." To hear another poem by Sanchez, titled "Questions," please check out our Web site. Go to the TELL ME MORE page at npr.org.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.