Sanchez, who first came in 1971 to what was then Grand Valley State College, remains a fiery role model as a social activist, poet, and performer who unites people with her rhetoric and love of language. She is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, including "Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems" and "Does Your House Have Lions?" which was nominated for both the NACCP Image and National Book Critics' Circle Award.
"Her poems lift up, in the tradition of Walt Whitman's praise and compassion, while they carry as well the gravity of Langston Hughes, telling the political stories of American cities," said Patricia Clark who orchestrates Grand Valley's Poetry Night. Clark is a professor in the Department of Writing and the current Grand Rapids poet laureate.
Sanchez began teaching in the San Francisco area in 1965 and was a pioneer in developing black studies courses at what is now San Francisco State University, where she was an instructor during the late 1960s. She retired in 1999 from Temple University in Philadelphia, where she had taught since 1977.
Olds, who was born in San Francisco in 1942, has written eight volumes of poetry including "The Dead and the Living," which received the National Critics Award. Her poems often witness pain, love, desire, and grief with relentless courage. Her work is anthologized in over 100 collections, ranging from literary/poetry textbooks to special collections, and her poetry has been translated into seven languages for international publications.
For more than 20 years, Olds has been involved in outreach writing workshops taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison, several New York City public high schools, and an oncology ward for children. Olds teaches poetry workshops in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University and helps run the N.Y.U. workshop program at Goldwater Hospital in New York. She was the New York State Poet Laureate for 1998-2000.
Poetry Night is sponsored by gifts from Liesel and Hank Meijer, Charles and Stella Royce, and a grant from Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Poetry Night is part of Grand Valley's Fall Arts Celebration, sponsored by Macatawa Bank.
For more information about Poetry Night call Patricia Clark at (616) 331-2575.