cover image Wounded in House of a Friend CL

Wounded in House of a Friend CL

Sonia Sanchez. Beacon Press (MA), $11 (94pp) ISBN 978-0-8070-6826-7

Sanchez (Under a Soprano Sky), along with Nikki Giovanni, was a major player in the early 1970s as African American women began to explore feminist, political and cultural issues in poetry. Focusing on performance as an integral aspect of craft, Sanchez prepared the way for such writers as Ntozake Shange. Much of this book (her first in eight years) pays back debts; in a mixture of poetry and prose, she commemorates a quarter century of Essence magazine and offers memorial pieces for James Baldwin and Malcolm X. Sanchez is at her best, however, when she places her speaker in the furious center of criminal action: a raped woman's detailed account of her attack, a woman trading her seven-year-old daughter for crack (``he held the stuff out/ to me and i cdn't remember/ her birthdate i cdn't remember/ my daughter's face''). A brilliant narrative is offered in the voice of a Harlem woman struggling with (and eventually hammered to death by) her junkie granddaughter. After such emotion, Sanchez turns to a series of minuscule poems based on Japanese forms that blunt rather than intensify her breathless energy. (Apr.)