Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Maya Angelou (1928-2014), was one of the most well-known persons of the 20th and 21st century.  She was a poet, autobiographer, playwright, educator, actress, dancer, singer, show-host, lecturer, feminist, political activists, and leader.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (E185.97 .A56 A3 1970), Angelou's first authobiography, which was nominated for the National Book Award is part of the collection at the Dick Smith Library.  Many of Angelou's autobiographies, as well as poetry, were inspired by her childhood in the years when discrimination and segregation were strong.  The strength of her close-knit family along shines through in her poems as illustrated by this poem,
Touched by an Angel
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity

In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Angelou read her poem, On the Pulse of Morning, at the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1993.  Only one other person, Robert Frost, has ever been invited to read their poetry at the inauguration of a president. Here is a small portion of this poem:

Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes,
Into your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

The Dick Smith Library’s collection of books by Maya Angelou includes:
Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me
PS3551.N464 M68 2006

                           The Heart of a Woman,
                           PS3551.N464 Z465 1997

Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now
               PS3551.N464 W68 1997


       I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
                       E185.97 .A56 A3 1970.

Maybe you'll be as lucky as I was when I received one of Angelou's books from my children on Mother's Day a few years back!

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