Friday, March 19, 2010

Author Appreciation Week: Maya Angelou

Our last author for Author Appreciation Week is simply amazing. Maya Angelou has written so many beautiful books and poems that it's difficult to showcase just one or two. Suffice it to say that this woman has an amazing talent and needs a place on your bookshelf. If by some fluke you have not read any of this author's work, may I recommend perhaps her best known (and loved) I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I can't say enough about her writing.

But even more moving than her writing, is listening to her speak. If you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak, you absolutely must do it. The electricity in the room is incredible and her articulation and speech are like music. In fact, I knew I had met what was to be a very good friend when I learned that both of us (not having yet met one another) had attended the same lecture Ms. Angelou was giving in the Baltimore area. She's just that powerful.

I leave you with my favorite of her poems:

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

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?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
-Maya Angelou

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