Students create co-op for artists of color at Temple

The SONKU writer’s co-op hopes to publish an annual literary magazine, with its first in April.

Doriana Diaz, a junior gender, sexuality, and women’s studies major and co-founder of SONKU, responds to a writing prompt during a club meeting on Nov. 29 at Paley Library. | LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Taylar Enlow and Doriana Diaz instantly bonded over a love for poetry and a mutual understanding of a lack of space for writers of color on Main Campus. 

They met this fall through The Side by Side Collective, an organization Diaz co-founded that helps women of color make friends and practice self-care.

The group inspired the two to create SONKU, a co-op that allows writers and artists of color to collaborate on creative projects. Their goal is to create an annual both digital and print literary magazine consisting of members’ creative poetry submissions in all genres.

“This is what people of color created, and a slice of their vulnerability,” said Diaz, a junior gender, sexuality and women’s studies major.

The co-op had its first meeting in October and meetings take place every other Thursday, Diaz said. Writers can submit their work on SONKU’s website until January to be considered for the literary magazine, which the organization hopes to publish in April.

“The overall theme of the magazine is vulnerability, and it will be broken into five stages of grief,” Diaz said.

The co-op is focused on its community and involvement of its members, Enlow said. All club members will participate in selecting material for the print product.

“We want for people of color to feel recognized and championed,” added Enlow, a sophomore Africology and African-American Studies major.

Black female writer, poet and activist Sonia Sanchez, who worked and taught at Temple from 1977-99 and serves as the university’s poet-in-residence, inspires both Enlow and Diaz. The duo named the co-op after Sanchez’s writing style.

Sonku is Sanchez’s loose personal adaptation of the Haiku, a traditional form of Japanese poetry consisting of three lines following a 5-7-5 syllable format. Sonku refers to four-line poems written in lines of either 4–3–4–3 or 6–3–6–3 syllables.

Enlow said Sanchez helped shape her own identity and made her feel seen and heard through her poetry, while Diaz’s favorite book is Sanchez’s “Shake Loose My Skin” poetry collection. 

The two hope to collaborate with Sanchez in the future with the co-op and facilitate a meeting or workshop. Sanchez could not be reached for comment.

While SONKU is not yet an official student organization recognized by the university, Diaz and Enlow hope it will soon be Temple affiliated so the co-op can continue after they graduate. Members pay a $10 dollar membership fee per semester, and the funds go toward publishing the print magazine, Diaz said.

For Diaz, poetry is a tool to cope with pain. She views it as a deep, powerful language.

“You can learn so much about yourself through poetry,” Diaz said. “Writing for me is a conversation with myself, something bigger than me and the page.”

Zoe Dixon, a sophomore film and media arts major, attended the first SONKU meeting and plans to submit two pieces for the print magazine.

“There are amazing writers in this co-op,” she said. “I have grown as a writer. Seeing my peers’ work has had a great impact on me.”

Dynas Johnson, a junior English major who participates in the club, said SONKU is her home base and she gets to work among other writers with a similar identity to her own.

“I am very happy with SONKU,” she added. “It is very empowering to be in the midst of your own.”

The group aims to create a safe space for artists of color to create a community and grow socially and artistically, Enlow said. 

“At the end of the day, that is the most important,” she added. “Relationships with other artists, but also relationships with ourselves.”

Editor’s note: Taylar Enlow is a freelance writer for The Temple News. She had no role in the reporting or editing of this story. 

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