A leading lady

in poetry embraces


Sonia Sanchez, a retired Temple University professor and an award-winning poet, educator and activist, will be Philadelphia's first poet laureate.

Mayor Nutter was to make the announcement this morning in City Hall.

"I considered it quite the honor," Sanchez, 77, told the Daily News yesterday. "I accepted this post because you really want to remind the city, the country and the world that poetry reminds us of the best in ourselves and others . . . it brings us to that avenue where conversation will be discussed."

Nutter had Sanchez in mind, and a six-person committee nominated her to the post, in which she will serve for two years. She will be paid an unspecified amount.

"Poetry is an extraordinary and powerful art form, and our great city is filled with an astonishing array of poets who help us to better understand our lives," Nutter said. "Ms. Sanchez exemplifies the role a poet can play in helping to define a city and helping its citizens discover beauty."

Sanchez said she hopes to persuade Nutter to grant her more time so that she can help implement programs in schools and throughout the city, including poetry competitions and initiatives to promote peace.

In July, Sanchez and the committee will select a youth poet laureate.

Sanchez also will recite a poem at Monday's inauguration at the Academy of Music, during which Nutter, City Council members and other elected officials will be sworn in. That poem, which she said is not yet finished, will celebrate Philadelphia.