Maya Angelou On life:
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in my late teens. I was gripped and horrified simultaneously. It was a wake-up call for me as someone who had grown up in middle-class rural England… where I took home comfort and all its trappings for granted.
The used-to-be sheriff sat rakishly astraddle his horse. His nonchalance was meant to convey his authority and power over even dumb animals. How much more capable he would be with Negroes. It went without saying.
His twang jogged in the brittle air. From the side of the store, Bailey and I heard him say to Momma, ‘Annie, tell Willie he better lay low tonight. A crazy nigger messed with a white lady today. Some of the boys’ll be coming over here later.’ Even after the slow drag of years, I remember the sense of fear which filled my mouth with hot, dry air and made my body light.” — from 1969’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Her wonderfully descriptive prose weaves its way lyrically across the page, drawing in the reader in such an intimate way, as she unravels the story using vivid descriptions to create a strong sense of place and convey her character’s sense of fear.
Maya Angelou was such an inspiration in so many ways, especially as both a writer and a poet. She stirred many hearts, including mine.
Maya Angelou 1928-2014
Poet, singer, memoirist and civil rights activist and inspiration to all.