Questions of Practice: Pew Fellows Sonia Sanchez and Major Jackson on Legacy and the Joys of Teaching

Sonia Sanchez & Major Jackson: Content Block 1

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, Pew Fellows and poets Sonia Sanchez (1993) and Major Jackson (1995) visited the Center for a conversation about artistic practice, the rewards of teaching, and Sanchez’s influence on younger generations of poets, including Jackson, who studied under Sanchez at Temple University. “I maintain that to be a really good poet, you have got to daydream,” Sanchez says, in reflecting on her life as a poet.

In the first excerpt, Sanchez recalls her study of form with poet Louise Bogan, and how she learned to “deal with complexity” in her work.

Questions of Practice: Pew Fellow and Poet Sonia Sanchez on Mentorship

Pew Fellows and Poets Sonia Sanchez and Major Jackson on mentorship. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on April 25, 2017.

In the clip that follows, Sanchez describes her passion for teaching as a means to impart to her students “what it means to be human,” and how her experiences as a teacher translate to her own work.

Questions of Practice: Pew Fellow and Poet Sonia Sanchez on the “Joy of Teaching”

Pew Fellows and Poets Sonia Sanchez and Major Jackson on teaching. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on April 25, 2017.

In the final excerpt, Jackson acknowledges Sanchez as “an international figure” and asks how she thinks about her legacy as a writer, teacher, and activist.

Questions of Practice: Pew Fellows Sonia Sanchez and Major Jackson on Legacy

Pew Fellows and Poets Sonia Sanchez and Major Jackson on legacy. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on April 25, 2017.

Watch Sanchez read her poem 10 Haikus for Max Roach.>

Watch Jackson read sections from his poem Urban Renewal.>

The author of more than a dozen books of poetry, Sonia Sanchez has been honored with the Frost Medal, a Women International League for Peace and Freedom Award, and the Lucretia Mott Award, among many others. She is the subject of the documentary film BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez by Pew Fellows Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon.

​​​​​​​Major Jackson’s most recent publications include Roll Deep (2015), and the collections Holding Company (2010) and Hoops (2006)—both finalists for NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry. A recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and a Fellowship from the Witter Bynner Foundation, Library of Congress, Jackson is a professor at University of Vermont.