M&M: Sonia Sanchez with Siduri Beckman & Jaya Montague

Moonstone Poetry Series Presents Mentor and Mentored – Sonia Sanchez with Siduri Beckman & Jaya Montague

Tuesday April 9, 7pm – At PhillyCAM Studios

699 Ranstead Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (between Chestnut and Market Streets )

An intergenerational poetry series that presents both the mentor and the mentored: how does poetry travel from generation to generation, what are the themes, the sounds, what changes and what stays the same. Filmed with a live audience at the PhillyCAM Studio, the program will be edited and broadcast at a later date. 

 Sonia Sanchez – poet, activist, scholar—was the Laura Carnell Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Temple University. She is the recipient of both the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award. One of the most important writers of the Black Arts Movement, Sanchez is the author of sixteen books, a contributing editor to Black Scholar and The Journal of African Studies, and editor of We Be Word Sorcerers. She is Poet Laureate of the City of Philadelphia, and has taken on the mentorship of two young poets: “I have judged many, many poetry contests and I’ve been known by people who have led those contests that I can’t choose one person. They kept saying, ‘You gotta have one person here.’ Although we have one person, I explained to the runner up that she would be reading her poetry with us around the city. I think that’s important. It’s not one person someplace…We’re gonna have the two of them reading in the city of Philadelphia.”

Sanchez continued: “Hear the sound of these young poets’ rhythm on our teeth this year. Hear the sound of beauty on their breast this year as their poems explode from clouds, and kneecaps, and veins, and eyes. As their tongues embroider us with their pyramids. I want you to understand that I take it seriously, this whole idea of mentoring two young people. They’ll be hanging out with me.”

Siduri Beckman is a student at Julia R. Masterman School who aspires to be a district attorney and eventually a Supreme Court justice. A six-member committee selected two finalists, and the city’s first poet laureate, Sonia Sanchez, made the final decision. “I really think [poetry] can be used to help teens with issues,” said Beckman, who sleeps with a pen and adhesive notes near her bed and spends her free time reading, writing short stories and doing community service. “A lot of grown-ups don’t always understand what teenagers feel. Poetry is this super-raw form of expression [in which] teenagers can talk about the issues that they face.”

Jaya Montague, Philadelphia Young Playwrights Youth Council Member and student at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts has been writing since she was five years old. “I just want to thank everybody who’s ever supported my writing because I’ve been writing since probably kindergarten. My Aunt Sandy who’s not here who, in the summer time, would sit down and make me write for three hours, which I hated, but then I grew to love writing. I’d like to thank my mother who’s always been there for me — through everything; my grandmother, without the strength that she had I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

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