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Sapphire (author)

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Title: Sapphire (author)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Precious (film), Push (novel), Each One Teach One, Outlaw poets, Geoffrey S. Fletcher
Collection: 1950 Births, 20Th-Century American Novelists, 20Th-Century American Poets, 20Th-Century Women Writers, 21St-Century American Novelists, 21St-Century American Poets, 21St-Century Women Writers, African-American Novelists, African-American Poets, African-American Women Writers, American Women Novelists, American Women Poets, American Women Writers, Bisexual Women, Bisexual Writers, Lgbt African Americans, Lgbt Novelists, Lgbt Poets, Lgbt Writers from the United States, Living People, Outlaw Poets, Pseudonymous Writers, Writers from California
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Sapphire (author)

Sapphire at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009
Born (1950-08-04) August 4, 1950
Fort Ord, California

Ramona Lofton (born August 4, 1950), better known by her pen name Sapphire, is an American author and performance poet.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Ramona Lofton was born in Fort Ord, California,[1] one of four children of an Army couple who relocated within the United States and abroad. After a disagreement concerning where the family would settle, her parents separated, with Lofton's mother "kind of abandoning them".[2] Lofton dropped out of high school and moved to San Francisco, where she attained a GED and enrolled at the City College of San Francisco before dropping out to become a "hippie".[3] In the mid-1970s Lofton attended the City College of New York and obtained an MFA degree at Brooklyn College. Lofton held various jobs before starting her writing career, working as a performance artist as well as a teacher of reading and writing.


Lofton moved to published her poetry during the height of the Slam Poetry movement in New York. Lofton took the name "Sapphire" because of its one-time cultural association with the image of a "belligerent black woman," and also because she said she could more easily picture that name on a book cover than her birth name.[4]

Sapphire self-published the collection of poems Meditations on the Rainbow in 1987.[5] As Cheryl Clarke notes, Sapphire's 1994 book of poems, American Dreams is often erroneously referred to as her first book. One critic referred to it as "one of the strongest debut collections of the 1990s".[6]

Her first novel, Push, was unpublished before being discovered by literary agent Charlotte Sheedy, whose interest created demand and eventually led to a bidding war. Sapphire submitted the first 100 pages of Push to a publisher auction in 1995 and the highest bidder offered her $500,000 to finish the novel. The book was published in 1996 by Vintage Publishing and has since sold hundreds of thousands of copies.[7] Sapphire noted in an interview with William Powers that "she noticed Push for sale in one of the Penn Station bookstores, and that moment it struck her she was no longer a creature of the tiny world of art magazines and homeless-shelters from which she came".[2] The novel brought Sapphire praise and much controversy for its graphic account of a young woman growing up in a cycle of incest and abuse.

A film based on her novel premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009. It was renamed Precious to avoid confusion with the 2009 action film Push.[8] The cast included Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, who won the Academy Award for her portrayal of Precious' mother Mary, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz.[9] Sapphire herself appears briefly in the film as a daycare worker.

In 2011, she released The Kid, a semi-sequel to Push.

Sapphire's writing was the subject of an academic symposium at Arizona State University in 2007.[10] In 2009 she was the recipient of a Fellow Award in Literature from United States Artists.[11]

Personal life

Sapphire lives in New York City. She is openly bisexual.[12] Like her character Precious, Sapphire herself was sexually abused by her own father, a US army sergeant, at the age of eight.[12]



  • Push (1996)
  • The Kid (2011)


  • Meditations on the Rainbow: Poetry (1987)
  • American Dreams (1994)
  • Black Wings & Blind Angels: Poems (1999)[13]


  1. ^ "Free Family Tree, Genealogy and Family History - MyHeritage". 
  2. ^ a b (Powers)
  3. ^ Powers, Harrell et al.
  4. ^ Marvel, Mark (June 1996). "Sapphire's big push". Interview. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  5. ^ Clarke, Cheryl (Fall 1996). "An Identity of One's Own". Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review 3 (4): 37. , also available in Schneider, kim (1997). The Best of the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review. Temple University Press.  
  6. ^ (Harrell et al.).
  7. ^ , 13 January 2010This is LondonInterview with David Cohen,
  8. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (2009-02-20). "When 'Push' comes to shove". Variety. 
  9. ^  
  10. ^ PUSHing Boundaries, PUSHing Art: A Symposium on the Works of Sapphire. Tempe, Arizona. 2007-02-28. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  11. ^ United States Artists Official Website
  12. ^ a b "How author created film character Precious through her own sexual". Evening Standard. 13 January 2010. 
  13. ^ Across the Page: Bisexual Literature,, Heather Aimee O..., November 23, 2008

External links

  • An Interview with Sapphire at Rollins College (February 2015)
  • Sapphire: The Interview on [The Root (July 2011)]
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