The death of Maya Angelou, a lioness of American arts and letters, marked the end of her truly extraordinary career. She leaves behind a body of work that is, quite frankly, exhaustive. The Poetry Foundation has a full list of Angelou’s contributions to literature, poetry, theater and film and many her poems can be found on Poem Hunter.
I also thought I would share some videos of Angelou reading some of her most well-known pieces. Above is Angelou reading her famous poem “Still I Rise.” Here are a few more after the jump. Keep reading »
Maya Angelou, a poet and civil rights activist, has died at 86. Angelou is most well-known for her memoir I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings about growing up poor and Black in the South and she leaves behind a trove of poetry, plays, and other books. Angelou was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King and James Baldwin. She was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for a book of poetry in 1971, read a poem at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2011, and a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation in 2013. In her later life, Angelou was an educator at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her death was confirmed by her literary agent this morning. [Charlotte.TWCnews.com; New York Times]
Earlier this week, a woman was arrested after attempting to shoplift 330 Totino’s Pizza Rolls from an Arkansas Walmart. My feelings about this story can only be expressed one way — in rhyming couplets:
For anyone who’s ever tried a pizza roll or five,
you know the ooey, gooey taste can make you feel alive.
And for anyone who gets a rush from stealing little things,
the urge to pilfer pizza rolls would surely prove tempting. Keep reading »
If you were alive in the ’90s and liked poetry, chances are you liked slam poetry. Or at least went to a slam poetry performance, even if you didn’t like it. My first exposure to slam poetry was during a creative writing class at summer camp when I was 14; we watched the PBS series “The United States Of Poetry.” One poet in particular stood out: Maggie Estep. Her slam poem from “The United States Of Poetry,” called “I’m An Emotional Idiot,” was unlike any of the Emily Dickinson or e.e. cummings poems that bored me in school. She was brave, bold, opinionated, and stomped the streets of New York City with more attitude that I assumed a mousy poetess could ever have. Throughout the ’90s. Estep appeared on MTV’s “Spoken Word Unplugged” (yeah, that was actually a thing) and “Beavis And Butthead,” HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam,” and performed at Lollapalooza and Woodstock. She recorded two spoken word albums and wrote seven books. The A.V. Club reports through the blog East Village Grieve that Maggie Estep died on Monday at age 50. I was sad not to have seen more of her work during her living years. But I hope that Estep knew during her life that she was an inspiration to at least one teenage girl with lots of feelings. [AV Club, MaggieEstep.com]
“You’re too ugly to be raped”? I’ll let Pages Matam‘s poem “Piñata” speak for itself. [via Upworthy]
An Ohio high school student was suspended for — of all reasons — writing a poem about his feelings. Sixteen-year-old Nick Andre, who plays defensive end on the football team, was just doing his composition homework. The assignment? To write a poem about something that makes you angry. So, Nick wrote a poem entitled Stupid about his team’s losing streak. Keep reading »
When digging through the bowels of the internet, you tend to find both shit and nuggets of gold. Sometimes, you find both. The shitnugget interweb discovery of the day (thank you, Amelia) is a website called Poopie Poems, featuring the largest collection of poop poetry on the web. You can browse through well-crafted Haipoops, Rhyming Shitlets, and Free Turds, which explore the scatological crisis and moving movements all of us experience in life. I got choked up reading Mr. T’s A New Life Is Born As The Toilet Flushes… which describes one man’s last doodie before he becomes a daddy. Check out the full poem after the jump. Keep reading »
Warsan Shire, 24, has just become London’s first ever Young Poet Laureate. The Kenyan-born Somali poet writes about both English and African culture, exploring war, sex, culture, love, and everything in between with a great depth and sensitivity. She expresses her worldview with an honest vulnerability that most would shy away from. Her first book of poems, Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth, was published in 2011. She has a BA in creative writing and even teaches workshops on using poetry to heal trauma – and she’s not even halfway through her 20s yet. Warsan was chosen from six young finalists, and she will now undertake a residency at the Houses of Parliament and spend the next year creating work that reflects on London. Carol Ann Duffy, London’s current poet laureate, announced Warsan as the winner as part of National Poetry Day. Her willingness to be candid and speak her truth in her work is something we could all stand to learn from. ”It is our vision for east London to be a thriving cultural district,” said chief executive Dennis Hone, “and Warsan as the first Young Poet Laureate for London will play a key part in that transformation.” Congratulations! [BBC; Well & Often; Warsan Shire]
Pads off to New York’s Marymount Manhattan College for holding the first ever period poetry slam, “Red Moon Howl.” The menstrual-themed event welcoming “poets, performers & menstrual enthusiasts” and featuring the work of Sylvia Plath, will take place on June 7th as part of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Conference, honoring Gloria Steinem for her work in “taking down social taboos toward menstruation, including the belief that women are weak, dirty or inferior to men because of their cycles.” Keep reading »
Oh Riker, oh Commander, oh my dearest William T.,
The time has come to express just how much you mean to me.
I’ve had many crushes, they come and go every day,
But my love for you, Riker, well, it’s never gone away. Keep reading »