When Sojourner Kincaid Rolle ’81 was attending Berkeley Law, someone told her, “You have to decide whether you’re going to be a lawyer or a crusader.”
In becoming a poet, Rolle believes she chose the latter.
“I sort of hold up the sky where I am,” she says.
Santa Barbara’s poet laureate for the past two years, Rolle has enjoyed a prolific career. Her poems appear in six chapbooks and in various anthologies and literary journals. She has written several plays, including a theatrical dance performance (“Ayo’s Journey”) about the transatlantic slave trade, based on an original 12-poem cycle. And as a television producer and journalist, Rolle has conducted numerous interviews for broadcast and print.
She considers herself a “public poet” and a professional classroom guest. For the past three decades, she has composed poems for community celebrations, hosted poetry events, and led poetry workshops for all ages.
“People resonate to poetry,” says Rolle, whose multi-media work is established at UC Santa Barbara’s California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. “People see their own world reflected in a poem, gain insight, and feel that they are not alone.”
At Berkeley Law, Rolle became an activist, serving in the Graduate Assembly and the Coalition for a Diversified Faculty, and started writing more poetry. She also began formulating her post-law-school aspiration to be a “legally trained person in service to the community.”
“And that’s exactly who I am,” she says.