Sonia Sanchez (born Wilsonia Benita Driver; September 9, 1934) is an African-American poet most often associated with the Black Arts Movement. She has authored over a dozen books of poetry, as well as short stories, critical essays, plays, and children's books. She was a recipient of 1993 Pew Fellowships in the Arts. In 2001, Sanchez was the recipient of the Robert Frost Medal for her poetry (one of the highest honors awarded to a nationally recognized poet) and has been influential to other African-American female poets, including Krista Franklin.
Sanchez was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 9, 1934. Her mother died when Sanchez was only two years old, so she spent several years being shuttled back and forth among relatives. One of those was her grandmother, who died when Sanchez was six. In 1943, she moved to Harlem to live with her father, her sister, and her stepmother, who was her father's third wife. In 1955, Sanchez received a B.A. in Political Science from Hunter College, where she had also taken several creative writing courses. Later, she completed postgraduate work at New York University, where she studied poetry with Louise Bogan.
Although her first marriage to Albert Sanchez did not last, Sonia Sanchez would retain her professional name. She did not have children with Albert but with her second husband Etheridge Knight. So together, they had three children: a daughter, Anita, and twin sons, Moran Neuse and Mungu Neuse. Motherhood heavily influenced the motifs of her poetry in the '70s, the bond between mother and child emerging as a key theme. Sanchez and Knight later divorced. In 1972, she joined the Nation of Islam, but left the organization after three years in 1975 because her views on women's rights conflicted with theirs. She also has three grandchildren.