Ramona Lofton Biography
Ramona Lofton, better known by her pen name Sapphire, is an American author and performance poet. Her work features on unsparing though often empowering depictions of the vicissitudes of African American and bisexual life.
Ramona Lofton Age
She was born on August 4, 1950, in Fort Ord, California, United States of America. She is sixty-eight years of age as of 2018.
Ramona Lofton Family
Ramona Lofton was born in Fort Ord, California. She was the second oldest of four children born to military parents. Her father was an army sergeant and her mother was a soldier in the Women’s Army Corps. Throughout her childhood, her family maintained a middle-class façade while hiding incest and alcoholism.
When Lofton was thirteen, her father retired from the Army and moved the family to Los Angeles. Her mother, who was battling alcoholism, did not join them and instead abandoned the family. Years later they reconnected, but her mother succumbed to alcoholism in 1986. That same year Lofton’s homeless brother was murdered in a Los Angeles park. Their deaths later played pivotal roles in Lofton’s emerging writing career.
Like her character Precious, Sapphire was sexually abused by her father at the age of eight.
Ramona Lofton Early Life
She adopted the name Sapphire for its connotations of vividness and to reclaim the demonized figure of the fiery black woman. She also immersed herself in the Slam Poetry movement emerging in New York City in the 1980s.
Lofton dropped out of high school and moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s, briefly studying chemistry and dance at the City College of San Francisco, before adopting what she described as a hippie lifestyle. She moved to New York City in 1977, where she supported herself by working as a housekeeper and as a topless dancer.
Lofton returned to school at the City College of New York, majored in modern dance and graduated with honors in 1993; she obtained a master degree in fine arts in 1995 from Brooklyn College.
Ramona Lofton Relationship
Ramona Lofton Career
Sapphire self-published the collection of poems Meditations on the Rainbow in 1987. 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”.
Her first novel, Push, was unpublished before being discovered by literary agent Charlotte Sheedy, whose interest created demand and eventually led to a bidding war.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.
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”. The cast included Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, who won the Academy Award for her portrayal of Precious’ mother Mary, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz. Sapphire herself appears briefly in the film as a daycare worker.
Sapphire’s writing was the subject of an academic symposium at Arizona State University in 2007. In 2009 she was the recipient of a Fellow Award in Literature from United States Artists.
Sapphire has focused on bringing to light the parts of life that do not receive attention. In her words,
A major focus of my art has been my determination to reconnect to the mainstream of human life a segment of humanity that has been cast off and made invisible. I have brought into the public gaze women who have been marginalized by sexual abuse, poverty, and their blackness. Through art I have sought to center them in the world.
Ramona Lofton Push
Her 1996 novel Push, for which she was best known, tells the harrowing story of Claireece Jones, called Precious, an obese, illiterate African American teenager living in Harlem who, having been raped by her father, is both HIV-positive and the mother of two children. Styled as a journal that Precious begins when she transfers to an alternative school. The novel utilizes vernacular along with frequent malapropism and misspelling to evince the protagonist’s struggles with literacy.
As Precious commits her story to paper under the patient tutelage of Ms. Rain, her teacher, she begins for the first time to imagine a life beyond her daunting circumstances. Though generally acclaimed, the novel met with objection from some African American critics who disputed its emphasis on the afflictions of the black community.
Ramona Lofton Net Worth
According to various sources, Sapphire’s net worth has grown significantly in 2019. However, the numbers vary depending on the source. If you have current knowledge about Sapphire’s net worth, please feel free to share the information below.