Today is the 86th birthday of one of the most beloved writers of our generation, Maya Angelou! The Wake Forest University professor is perhaps most famous for her 1969 memoir I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, as well as reading a poem at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, winning the Pulitzer Prize for one of her poetry collections, and a nomination for an Emmy for her work on the TV series “Roots.” Oh, and let’s not forget the Presidential Medal Of Freedom! Angelou is a lifelong civil rights activist, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and was the first-ever Black female cable car conductor in San Francisco. She was friends with Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King and James Baldwin and these days is friends with none other than Oprah Winfrey. In memory of her birthday, I poked around YouTube looking for a good video of Angelou reading one of her poems, but I settled on this snippet from “Oprah’s Master Class.” It’s a short, lovely meditation on being human and a reminder why Maya Angelou is a national treasure. [Biography.com, YouTube]
Beyonce’s not done, y’all. In addition to blessing the world with the best Christmas gift ever just a week ago, Bey — or should we call her Yonce now? — is releasing her third fragrance, called Rise, inspired by her favorite Maya Angelou poem. Perhaps that poem is “Still I Rise,” which includes the line:
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
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Here is the poet Dr. Maya Angelou, age 83, reading a letter she wrote to her 15-year-old self. “Find a beautiful piece of art,” she says. “Realize that was created by a human being just like you. No more human, no less.” Gorgeous. Definitely worth a listen. [CBS News]
You’d best believe I’d be pissy if I’d wasted my weekend fielding phone calls from frantic friends and family who thought I was dead! But leave it to Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
, to be as polite as can be responding to rumors that she’s kicked the bucket. The very-much-alive 81-year-old poet says the rumors “based on an erroneous account” that she’s been hospitalized and headed to the Pearly Gates are a “burden,” especially after her young grandson called her in hysterics. Miss Class Act, though, looks genuinely concerned for the mortal soul of whoever’s spreading this nasty gossip. “I feel sorry for a person who only has that much of life,” she said. “You should be living your own life, not talking about someone else’s death!”
Methinks Ms. Angelou hasn’t taken her head out of a poetry book in the past 10 years long enough to notice rumor-mongering about celeb deaths is a far more popular pastime than, saying, reading poetry. But really, people, she’s lived a hard life. Let the lady grow old in peace! Keep reading »