'it is midnight, no magical bewitching hour for me.'

Poetry isn’t always easy to read. Sometimes it is gut wrenching, harrowing, and illuminating. Shake Loose my Skin by Sonia Sanchez was one of those reads.  Sanchez is a common name even outside the poetry circle. Many of her words are quoted in widespread familiarity.

So when I picked up Shake Loose my skin, I thought I knew what to expect. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

'i have died and
dreamed myself back
into your arms
where what i die for sleeps.'

The collection spans various different topics, each from her previously published works and ending with new works not published in her other collections. As an introduction to Sonia Sanchez work, I believe that Shake Loose my Skin did its job quite well. I flew through the first few sections, devouring the writing with hardly a thought. It wasn’t until I got halfway into the book that I slowed down, reading a poem, a passage at a time, ruminating.

in my father’s time i fished in ponds without fishes.

The most painful and illuminating thing about reading this work was the fact that Sanchez speaks of things that continue to happen today. She speaks of cultural and societal turmoil from her own perspective, writing as if she were speaking to a dear friend, sometimes as if she is telling a fragment of a wide, more universal story.

'in the night
my half hour
negro dreams
i hear voices knocking at the door
i see walls dripping screams up
and down the halls.
won’t someone open the door for me?'


+5 stars

I was blown away by Shake Loose my Skin.


All poems quoted from Shake Loose my Skin by Sonia Sanchez

Release: 1999
Purchase: Shake Loose my Skin