A Blues Book for Blue Black Magical Women
From Social Justice Wiki
Return to Collection
A semi-autobiographical, spiritual, poetic, narrative chant, this work is divided into five parts: INTRODUCTION / QUEENS OF THE UNIVERSE, Past, Present, Rebirth, and Future. Joyce Ann Joyce points out that Sonia references T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, developing thematic and stylistic similarities. However Sonia's poem, criticizes Eliot's exclusion of non-Euro-American authors in his critique of of western civilization. Joyce writes, "Sanchez heightens her condmenation of the limitations embodied in the western literary tradition by mocking the style of the most highly praised poem in modern American poetry." (Joyce, 90) Sonia's subject in the poem is the Black woman; she locates this subject as the mother of Eastern Civilization. The NOI developed an ideology based on the original man being a Black man from the East. Sonia immediately exposes the reader to Eastern ideology, by having a Sura from the Koran as the epigraph.
"The introduction is a monologue that speaks directly to Black women, enumerating the malignant aspects of the American culture, explaining how Black people (the Black women) must instigate their own change, emphasizing what must be done for Black children, outlining the essential role of the Black woman, and ending with an urge for Black people to organize in the Nation of Islam so that they can be reborn in Blackness."(Joyce, 92)The poem opens with a plural subject, 'We' (as in "We Black/woooomen") but what follows are stories based on an individual, who often can be identified with the poet, Sonia Sanchez. The rest of the book traces the growth of the poet's consciousness. This form seamlessly blends the personal/self with the public/general.
The "Past" is made up of five sections; the poem travels through history, initially towards the past to locate the Black woman as the mother of civilization, and engages a young/black/girl's voyage to womanhood and Islam (through Elijah Muhammad). The transition to womanhood is preceded by a young woman appalled by America's rejection of integration, much like Sonia's experience with CORE.
In, Part Three: Present, Sonia identifies herself with the subject, "this honeycouatedalabamianwoman" hinting at her young life in Alabama. The subject recognizes her history, and through song becomes a "blue/black/magical/woman." The poem references Elijah Muhammad as a godly being, the sun.
Part Four: Rebirth, retells Sonia's spiritual homecoming. The poet/subject remembers the first time she made love, her pregnancy, and the birth of her twin sons, as well as 'woman' giving birth to the "Black redeemer star." The section ends with an invocation to Allah.
The finale, Part Five: Future, begins with a vision of an apocalypse, where only "those who had labored for Allah" are not destroyed. It is followed by the declaration: "WE ARE MUSLIM WOMEN." Black women are identified as the original man. The poem finishes, "in the beginning," reinforcing the concept of black woman as original man, as "in the beginning / there was no end."