Sonia Sanchez To Publish/Free Rumi From Instagram – Poetry News Roundup November 10th

Today in our round up of poetry news we look at the poet Sonia Sanchez as she prepares to publish a new book and the musical that hopes to free Rumi from Instagram.

Sonia Sanchez, Poet, Has Lots More to do

For more than 60 years the poet Sonia Sanchez has been assisting in the redefinition of American literature and politics. She was one of the first individuals to be involved in the setting up of a program of Black Studies at a university in America, a leading figure in the Black Arts movement during the 1960s and is widely revered as one of the greats in the field of American poetry – she was once described by the late Maya Angelou as

“A lion in literature’s forest. When she writes she roars, and when she sleeps other creatures walk gingerly.”

She was named as the winner of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize just last month. This lifetime achievement award carries a $250,000 prize and is awarded to someone who is highly accomplished and has pushed the boundaries of their discipline, contributing to social change, and paving the way for future generations.

Sanchez has been writing poetry since she was just five years old and early next years, she will be publishing her Collected Poems – a collection which will contain poems she has written that span four decades. Her poems are heavily influenced by Black oral traditions, and the Japanese art of tanka and haiku, as well as the Blues.

In the run up to the publication of her book she has been giving a series of interviews and discussing her work and the fact that she doesn’t feel she is ready to stop writing poems just yet.

Reclaiming the Poet from Instagram

A new musical production is hoping to reclaim the Sufi poet Rumi from Instagram. The show will tell the story of the poet’s life and also challenge many of the existing assumptions that exist around the Middle East and Islam.

Jalal al-Din Rumi, or Rumi as he is more commonly called is found everywhere, his words are all over Instagram accompanied by pictures of sunsets, they are on mugs on Etsy and have even features in the music of Coldplay and Madonna. He is alleged to be the best selling poet in the US. However most people simply know him as the Sufi mystic with the big beard and don’t know much else about him.

The musical is the work of a British Lebanese singer, Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan a composter from Qatar. Titled simply “Rumi: The Musical” they are hoping to “take the man out of the myth” and show that rather than the deified figure that he has become he was actually completely the opposite. This is not the first time that the pair have collaborated, in 2018 they produced “Broken Wings” a show based on the novel of another poet this time from Lebanon, Kahlil Gibran. The success of Broken Wings is what spurred them on to create their Rumi based musical.


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