Does Your House Have Lions?

Does Your House Have Lions?

4.08 (247 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Does Your House Have Lions? explores the life of Sonia Sanchez's brother - a vibrant young man who left the South for New York, immersed himself in the city's gay subculture, and became a victim of AIDS in the first years of the pandemic. Sanchez describes her brother's alienation from his family and his illness and death from AIDS with her characteristic tenderness. Told in the voices of sister, brother, father, mother, and ancestors, it is the story of kin estranged and then finally brought together by their shared history of loss, separation, and pain. This brave epic poem shatters silences surrounding gay sexuality in African-American families and imagines the possibility of reconciliation and love. It offers a meditation on the living meanings of journey, life, and death - an opportunity for all of us to find a way home.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 80 pages
  • 139.7 x 190.5 x 7.62mm | 113.4g
  • Beacon Press
  • Boston, MA, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0807068314
  • 9780807068311
  • 1,081,534

About Sonia Sanchez

Sonia Sanchez is an award-winning poet, activist, scholar, and formerly the Laura Carnell Professor of English and Women's Studies at Temple University, and is currently a poet-in-residence there. She is the author of sixteen books, including Like the Singing Coming off the Drums, Does Your House Have Lions?, Wounded in the House of a Friend, Shake Loose My Skin, and Morning Haiku.show more

Review quote

One of our more overlooked older poets, Sanchez writes concise, wounded poems that work on the page as well as aloud. A tragedy of sorts written in terse terza rima, this short narrative poem mourns the poet's half-brother's death from AIDS. Borrowing techniques from Greek tragedy and African ritual storytelling and song, it has a section for each speaker: sister, brother, father, and chorus of ancestors. Permeated with the pain of abandonment--the abandoner's, as well as the victim's--the poem is a road map for the disintegrating family: 'this father always a guest/ never a permanent resident of my veins/ always a traveler to other terrains.' It fades into disembodied voices at the end, the brother's death being one terminus of the ancestral line. But it is the ancestors who offer strength and permanence because they have turned suffering into a stoical wisdom. Interesting and moving. --Library Journal "Well-versed jazz fans will recognize the title of Sanchez's book-length poem as something sax and flute virtuoso Rahsaan Roland Kirk said. That musical association is appropriate: this is a musical poem, cast in the voices of a woman, her half-brother, his mother, their father, and, in the last of its four sections, ancestors, including distant African forebears. The story the poem's seven-line stanzas (rhymed ababbcc and appearing one per page) unfold is one of wayward men and familially faithful women. Father cut out when the son was little, and the son, when a teenager, left to pursue a faster life in New York City. But the son, who, we gather from hints in the imagery, is gay, has become mortally ill--with AIDS, further images hint, though neither sickness nor sexuality is named. His crisis brings the family voices together, and Sanchez's brilliant imagery, more evocative with every reading, makes them resound with life and emotion. The last stanza, in which ancestral voices call the son's spirit home to Africa, is designated 'To be sung.' The whole poem sings and would make a splendid theatrical performance--with music." --Booklistshow more

Rating details

247 ratings
4.08 out of 5 stars
5 39% (97)
4 36% (90)
3 18% (45)
2 6% (14)
1 0% (1)
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