Sojourner will be installed in Fishbon's "Abyss" with a work called "I See You. You See Me"
Sojourner Kincaid Rolle doesn't like to talk about herself. Given an opportunity, she would much rather talk about the importance of poetry in our lives, about what it means to have a saying to carry with you, to have a line from a poem, a verse from the Bible ("that's poetry, too"), something that resonates and helps you make it through some troubling moment or captures the essence of some historical event. She would much rather talk about the shared literary tradition that is handed down to every kid that hears the Twenty-Third Psalm or Shine on the Titanic.
When pressed, though, she says of herself:
I consider myself "a Black poet". I like the phrase. I love the tradition of Black Poetry. I was inspired first by my grandmother, Carruth Drummond Kincaid, who was a great community leader and public speaker. She always included poetry whenever she spoke. I often say my goal is to write a poem that my grandmother might choose to include in one of her speeches. And then there was the tradition of poem-saying in my church and in every public event in the "colored" community. The two ladies in our town who always "brought the poem" never wrote them but would do a recitation of some well-known poet. I was exposed to poetry all during my growing up but no one - no relative, no teacher, no friend - ever told me I could write a poem. And it never occurred to me to write one. I think I never had the idea until I heard Nikki Giovanni on an album. The urge was there and eventually the poems began to come out. I just started writing poems. Twenty years later I was calling myself a poet. Now I call myself a poet and a poetry teacher, a poetry advocate, a poetry promoter. My life is about poetry endeavor.
Her work has appeared in various poetry journals and her articles have appeared in a smattering of newspapers and magazines. She has self-published six chapbooks of poetry including Our Strength Will Grow and Between Us. The poem, The Artist Questions the Artist, was published in Let The Butterflies Continue. In 1999, a chapbook, Common Ancestry, was published by Mille Grazie Press. Some of her poems were also published in the anthology, The Geography of Home, The Poetry of Place.
Her work has been choreographed for dance presentation and has been performed as theater. In 2002, she co-wrote a major production, Ayo's Journey, a multi-dimensional theater performance about the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Her other work includes:
Sojourner Truth performances
Outrageous Women Television Show
Poet's Night producer
California Poet in the Schools
California Arts Council Poet in Residence
California Arts In Corrections teacher
Creative Writing workshop leader