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Happy Birthday, Sister Sonia Sanchez!

By Nicholas DiSabatino

Sonia SanchezDear Sister Sonia:

We’ve never met in person, yet we’ve spoken on the phone dozens of occasions since I joined Beacon Press back in 2012. I’ve been so blessed to work with you as your publicist these past few years. It’s a strange feeling to “know” someone only via the phone. I feel in some ways like we’re long distance pen pals, even though you’re only in Philadelphia and I’m in Boston. I’ve come to expect that particular warmth in your voice whenever we speak and I hear that familiar “Brother Nicholas, any calls?” from you. It’s part of who you are as a person and an artist.

You have lived countless lives and filled numerous roles: poet, playwright, teacher, activist, mother, friend, and one of the foremost leaders of the Black Arts Movement in the 1970s. You came to Beacon Press in 1995 and granted us the privilege of working with you through some of your best work: Wounded in the House of a Friend, Does Your House Have Lions?, Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums: Love Poems, Shake Loose My Skin, and Morning Haiku. You’ve been awarded for your artistry, education, and activism, named the Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, and even been made the subject of a documentary, BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez.

For me, though, you’ll always be Sister Sonia, the woman who recommended I put tiger balm on my chest to clear up my sinus infection, who sent me a handwritten note and gift on the occasion of my wedding last year, and who always wants to know how I’m feeling as we discuss upcoming media and event opportunities over the phone.

On this your birthday, I wish you many happy returns, and thank you for the wonderful spark you’ve brought to this world through your writing, activism, teaching, and compassion.

You are a remarkable “BaddDDD” woman.

Yours truly,

Brother Nicholas DiSabatino


About the Author 

Nicholas DiSabatino, former Beacon Press publicist, graduated from Kent State University and has an MA in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College.