Author, Essayist, Poet
Sonya uses the art and craft of the written word to weave a tapestry between our individual experiences and our collective liberation. Her commitment to accessible, honest work that moves us toward transformation is why Sonya continues to be a highly sought after and respected writer. Sonya is the author of three books, The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love (Berrett-Koehler 2018), The Ultimate Puberty Book for Girls: Celebrate Your Body (and Its Changes, Too!) (Callisto Publishing 2018), the poetry collection A Little Truth on Your Shirt (Girlchild Press 2010) and she is co-editor of the forthcoming, International Handbook of Fat Studies (Routledge 2019). Her essays, poetry, and curriculum have been published in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Rewire, Feministing, Radius, Off Our Backs and numerous anthologies. Sonya continues to use writing as a transformative practice.
The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love
Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies.
The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world--for us all.
"The Body is Not an Apology is a gift, a blessing, a prayer, a reminder, a sacred text. This book cracked me open in ways that I'm so gratrful for. I know it will do the same for you." ALICIA GARZA | cocreator of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and Strategy + Partnerships Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance.
"This is a radical, merciful, transformational book that will give you deep insights, inspiration, and concrete tools for launching the revoilution right inside your own beloved body." EVEN ENSLER | author of The Vagina Monologues and In the Body of the World
"Through lucid and courageous self-revelation, Sonya Renee Taylor shows us how to realize the revolutionary potential of self-love. 'The body is not an apology' is the mantra we should all embrace." KIMBERLÉ CRENSHAW | legal scholar and founder and Executive Director, African American Policy Forum
Celebrate Your Body (and Its Changes, Too!):The Ultimate Puberty Book for Girls
Puberty comes with a lot of changes. Celebrate Your Body (And It’s Changes, Too!) will help girls understand (and love) their bodies now and as they continue to grow.
For many girls, puberty can be an uncertain time. Celebrate Your Body (And Its Changes, Too!)includes everything girls need to know about breasts and bras, their period, hair here and there, feelings and friends, and so much more. This book will guide them as they learn about (and celebrate) their amazing, changing, one-of-a-kind bodies―during puberty and beyond!
A Little Truth on Your Shirt
A Little Truth on Your Shirt serves as both container and content. It hums a soft siren song, drawing us into those tucked away places in all of us. This pull-no-punches debut collection is intimate, powerful and brimming with the messiest of truths. Taylor delivers it sometimes as a controlled spill, sometimes as a fiery tidal wave, but always as the keen witness that nimbly works to stitch into each of our souls the shifting message of survival, fragility, and love for love sake.
Selected Works of Poetry
My Mother's Belly
The bread of her waist, a loaf
I would knead with 8 year old palms
sweaty from play. My brother and I marveled
at the ridges and grooves. How they would summit at her navel.
How her belly looked like a walnut. How we were once seeds
that resided inside.We giggled, my brother and I,
when she would recline on the couch,
lift her shirt, let her belly spread like cake batter in a pan.
It was as much a treat as licking the sweet from electric mixers on birthdays.
The undulating of my mother's belly was not
a shame she hid from her children.
She knew we came from this. Seemed grateful.
Her belly was a gift
we kept passing between us.
It was both hers, of her body
and ours for having made it new, different.
Her belly was a altar of flesh
built in remembrance of us by us.
What remains of my mother's belly
resides in a container of ashes I keep in a closet.
Every once and again, I open the box,
sift through the fine crystals with palms
that were once eight. Feel the grooves and ridges
that no longer summit but rill through fingers.
Granules so much more salt
than sweet today. And yet,
still I marvel at her once body.
Even in this form say,
"I came from this."
The Body Is Not An Apology
The body is not an apology.
Let it not be forget-me-not fixed to mattress when night threatens
to leave the room empty as the belly of a crow.
The body is not an apology. Present it not as disassembled rifle
when he has yet to prove himself more than common intruder.
The body is not an apology. Let it not be common as oil, ash, or toilet.
Let it not be small as gravel, stain, or teeth.
Let it not be mountain when it is sand.
Let it not be ocean when it is grass.
Let it not be shaken, flattened, or razed in contrition.
The body is not an apology. Do not give it as confession,
communion. Do not ask for it to be pardoned as criminal.
The body is not a crime, is not a gun.
The body is not a spill to be contained. It is not
a lost set of keys, a wrong number dialed. It is not
the orange burst of blood to shame white dresses.
The body is not an apology. It is not the unintended granules
of bone beneath wheel. The body is not kill.
It is not unkempt car.
It is not a forgotten appointment.
Do not speak it vulgar.
The body is not soiled. Is not filth to be forgiven.
The body is not an apology. It is not father’s backhand,
is not mother’s dinner late again wrecked jaw howl.
It is not the drunken sorcery of contorting steel round tree.
It is not calamity. The body is not a math test.
The body is not a wrong answer.
The body is not a failed class.
You are not failing.
The body is not a cavity, is not hole to be filled, to be yanked out.
It is not a broken thing to be mended, be tossed.
The body is not prison, is not sentence to be served.
It is not pavement, is not prayer.
The body is not an apology.
Do not give the body as gift. Only receive it as such.
The body is not to be prayed for, is to be prayed to.
So, for the evermore tortile tenth grade nose,
For the shower song throat that crackles like a grandfather’s Victrola,
For the spine that never healed, for the lambent heart that didn’t either,
For the sloping pulp of back, hip, belly,
For the errant hairs that rove the face like a pack of Acheronian wolves.
for the parts we have endeavored to excise.
the cancer, the palsy, the womb that opens like a trap door.
Praise the body in its blackjack magic, even in this.
For the razor wire mouth.
For the sweet god ribbon within it.
For the mistake that never was.
For the bend, twist, fall, and rise again,
fall and rise again. For the raising like an obstinate Christ.
For the salvation of a body that bends like a baptismal bowl.
For those who will worship at the lip of this sanctuary.
Praise the body, for the body is not an apology.
The body is deity. The body is God. The body is God:
the only righteous love that never need repent.
One hand searches for the slick of me
as the other clicks fast forward on the link, searching
for a scene with more action.
Tonight, it's bi porn, bodies stacked
inside each other like nesting pots.
They boil and spill onto each others flesh.
I tense, milk sleep out of my lonley hips then shut off
the computer. Yesterday, I gave the vibrator to a friend.
Asked her to hide it. I cannot be trusted
with my own hunger.
Tonight, I fried chicken.
Dregged each thick leg in flour, egg, salt and salt and salt.
Mixed macaroni and cheese with my hands, put them naked
inside the bowl of cheddar, gouda, butter butter butter.
Heated the oven slowly. Slid the pan onto the rack
and stood before the door. Paced, quivered
watched the grease gurgle and burp like an infant.
There is hunger I am nursing.
The fourth glass was a Zinfandel. Hints of nutmeg and tobacco.
It tasted like a cigar. Tasted like rich men and old wood. Made me wish for
short skirts and bad decisions. It didn't flirt with me.
It was not the first glass of Chardonnay.
Did not bat its eyelashes, wait for me to take it.The fourth glass
pinned me. Bound my wrist and poured into me.
I wanted to be taken. Needed something to see
I was starving and feed me.
I am a pit I fall into. I don't see myself coming.
This morning the car didn't start, he didn't call
I am frightened things keep dying.
The study becomes how to keep the doors locked from the inside.
somedays I am crime scene and criminal
fleeing from myself. Wanting returned what i stole..
In this body there are a legion of doors,
a screaming child in each one
and all these hungry bellies I cannot quiet.