I′m Black When I′m Singing, I′m Blue When I Ain′t and Other Plays

I′m Black When I′m Singing, I′m Blue When I Ain′t and Other Plays

Book Pages: 196 Illustrations: Published: September 2010

Author: Sonia Sanchez

Editor: Jacqueline Wood

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Theater and Performance > Theater

Sonia Sanchez is a prolific, award-winning poet and one of the most prominent writers in the Black Arts movement. This collection brings her plays together in one volume for the first time. Like her poetry, Sanchez’s plays voice her critique of the racism and sexism that she encountered as a young female writer in the black militant community in the late 1960s and early 1970s, her ongoing concern with the well-being of the black community, and her commitment to social justice. In addition to The Bronx Is Next (1968), Sister Son/ji (1969), Dirty Hearts (1971), Malcolm/Man Don’t Live Here No Mo (1972), and Uh, Uh; But How Do It Free Us? (1974), this collection includes the never-before-published dramas I’m Black When I’m Singing, I’m Blue When I Ain’t (1982) and 2 X 2 (2009), as well as three essays in which Sanchez reflects on her art and activism. Jacqueline Wood’s introduction illuminates Sanchez’s stagecraft in relation to her poetry and advocacy for social change, and the feminist dramatic voice in black revolutionary art.


“'Loneliness selects the sensitive people.’ All of the Sonia Sanchez plays collected in this volume reflect this feeling of being lost, lonely, shouting in alternate bursts of anger, despair, and a type of maniacal, make-believe joy. . . . Sanchez shows the political and personal avenues from the past to a hopeful present. Her art is activism, and her activism is aimed at social justice.” — Mary Popham, Foreword Reviews

“. . . [A] collection of the prolific poetess' work as a playwright and essayist. Edited by Jacqueline Wood, the book illuminates Sanchez's stagecraft in relation to her poetry and advocacy for social change, and the feminist dramatic voice in Black revolutionary art.” — Bobbi Booker, Philadelphia Tribune

“As you select your Kwanzaa and Christmas gifts for 2010 be sure to include this new volume. Highly recommended.” — James G. Spady, Philadelphia News Observer

“Sonia the poet, a towering figure in my mind when I think of the powerful black woman poets that still get me through this life and inspire me to write. But there is Sonia Sanchez the playwright too, and I’m so glad to meet her in this critical new collection I’m Black When I’m Singing, I’m Blue When I Ain’t and Other Plays. This collection finally brings together all of Sanchez’s dramatic works, previously published and unpublished, spanning from 1969 to 2009. . . . Placing these plays within their historical context is important, but they also hold up today as dramas that uplift and motivate their audiences and readers, dramas with messages that are still valuable. As this collection reminds us, there is Sonia Sanchez the activist too.” — Natalie Maxwell, Elevate Difference

“The publication of I’m Black When I’m Singing, I’m Blue When I Ain’t and Other Plays signifies Sanchez’s commitment to making her drama accessible to diverse publics. . . . Although Sanchez will likely continue to be known for her poetry, the plays collected here stand as a testament to the power of her writing for the stage and to an important feminist voice that helped shaped the Black Arts movement.” — Kristin Moriah, Theatre Journal

“Poet Sonia Sanchez deserves a Nobel for her lyrical representation and advocacy of the universal black woman.” — Ed Bullins

“Sonia Sanchez remains one of the most read, respected, and visible figures of the Black Arts Movement, as well as its most significant female figure. This volume only adds to that legacy.” — Amiri Baraka

“These seven plays by Sonia Sanchez form an emotional and historic bridge from the loud revolutionary power of the 1960s and the twentieth century to the more insidious and subtle challenges of this first decade of the twenty-first. Their power lies in their ability to present super/real snapshots of their time and circumstance with the mystic clarity that mixing poetry and drama can create. From The Bronx Is Next, where Brothers prepare to burn down Harlem tenements, to 2 X 2, where Beverly and Ramona Smith find one another, Sonia’s persistent call to Blacks—and especially to women—is to find the strength to assemble our ghosts and demons, confront them, and lay them to rest. The plays are startling and open us to a Sonia Sanchez whose vision can see the world as stage, or, perhaps, stage as the world.” — Charles Fuller

“Whether I encounter Sonia in poetry, prose, or drama, I am always struck by the fearlessness of her intellect, the effortless musicality of her language, and her commitment to putting these gifts—always—in service of the Struggle. I rejoice for those who, through this book, will encounter Sonia for the first time.” — Ruby Dee


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Sonia Sanchez is a poet, playwright, and activist living in Philadelphia. Her many books of poetry include Shake Loose My Skin, Does Your House Have Lions?, Under a Soprano Sky, Homegirls and Handgrenades, We a BaddDDD People, and Homecoming. She is the recipient of numerous honors recognizing her writing and activism, among them a PEN Writers’ Award and an American Book Award, as well as the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and the Peace and Freedom Award from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Jacqueline Wood is Associate Professor of African American Literature and the Interim Director of the African American Studies Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Table of Contents Back to Top

Part I. Essays

Poetry Run Loose: Breaking the Rules (2004)

Ruminations/Reflections (1984)

Preface to Uh,Uh; But How Do It Free US? (1974)

Part II. Plays

The Bronx is Next (1968)

Sister Son/ji (1969)

Dirty Hearts (1971)

Malcolm/Man Don't Live Here No Mo (1972)

Uh, Uh; But How Do It Free Us? (1974)

I'm Black When I'm Singing, I'm Blue When I Ain't (1982)

2 x 2 (2009)

Selected Bibliography
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4778-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4757-6
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