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]
As we mentioned earlier today, Chipotle had the genius idea to feature short selections of original literature on their various food surfaces, like cups, takeout bags, etc. Not only does this help keep customers entertained while they’re dining, but it prevents the awkward eating-alone scenario from being so awkward, and it’s educational. After I heard this news, I asked myself for about two hours why I never thought of it, because it’s such a glaringly obvious fix to a common human problem. Oh well. That ship has sailed, but here are eight other obvious places humans could really use some reading material. Let’s make it happen… Keep reading »
Motherhood. We all have a vision in mind of what it’s supposed to look like: warm, nurturing, saccharine, even beatific. Even the messier versions we allow — frazzled new parent anxiety, daylight zombies — still position the mother as with-it and in control. But what about the mothers who are anything but in control? What about the mothers who have an addiction in control of them?
Jowita Bydlowska is the author of a searing memoir, Drunk Mom, about her 11-month relapse into alcoholism after her son’s birth. A sober alcoholic, Bydlowska toasted her son’s birth with a glass of champagne. Then she began drinking regularly in the overwhelming new days of parenthood. At first her relapse was easy to hide, especially home alone on maternity leave with a newborn. But soon, the addiction metastasized into full-blown alcoholism once again, causing her to make dangerous decisions about her own and her baby’s safety and shrouding her relationship with her baby’s father in lies. When she finally makes it to rehab, the reader is relieved everyone is still alive.
Drunk Mom, which will be published in America on May 27th, is a discomforting read. It’s bare-naked honesty about addiction and families will make a lot of people uncomfortable, especially those with idealized versions of what motherhood and womanhood “should” mean. It’s by far one of the best memoirs that I’ve ever read (and yes, I’m including Wild in that) both for it’s candor and bravery and for her narration. I understand addiction all the better with once-again-sober Jowita Bydlowska as the Charon to this Hades, our guide to the underworld.
I called Bydlowska in Canada where she lives with her now-five-year-old son.
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Mother’s Day is when advertising distills motherhood down to home-cooked brunch, a bracelet, or a fragrant bouquet. But for far too many people, the relationship with their mom is a complicated one. Not all mothers have been nurturing and caring; not all daughters and sons have overcome the trauma of their childhoods as adults. There can be a lot of love in a mother-child relationship, but also a deep well of pain. That’s why The End Of Eve: A Memoir, by Ariel Gore, is the perfect antidote to Mother’s Day.
Several years ago, Gore, who is the editor of Hip Mama magazine, was happily in a relationship with her partner and raising a college-aged daughter and a toddler son, when she got some news. Her narcissistic, emotionally abusive mother, Eve, announced she had cancer.
So, Gore and her family picked up their lives and moved to spend the last couple of years caring for Eve — who, in turn, made everyone’s lives difficult in every possible way, like reporting Gore and her partner to Child Protective Services for (nonexistent) child abuse. But Gore was dedicated to both caring for her sick mom and trying to keep her relationship with her girlfriend together.
As a memoirist, Ariel Gore is gifted: she is able to tell a heartbreaking story of illness and betrayal with the perfect mix of respect, humor and irreverence. I called Gore at home to talk about The End Of Eve, which I absolutely devoured. Our conversation is after the jump!
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He showed up at my door wearing jeans. They were black, but they were definitely denim. Oh, dear. He looked so proud of himself, like, weren’t black jeans pretty much exactly the same thing as a suit? Jeans could be wedding-appropriate, come on! Well, no, not exactly. But if I said they couldn’t be, not for this wedding and probably not for most, I feared he’d only get angry and start railing on the bourgeois perceptions and expectations of my nouveau riche friends. He had on a jacket, at least, and a pressed button-down shirt. He’d shaved. He looked stressed, not angry yet, but on edge and ready to rage at being found fault with over something that he hadn’t cared about doing in the first place. This was my deal, not his.
“You look great!” I said. Keep reading »