Maya Angelou and the bird who broke the cage

Maya Angelou

As soon as I heard Maya Angelou had died, I sent out a tweet and posted on Facebook about what a tremendous loss this was – is – to the literary world. And like most things done in haste, I later realized that confining Sister Angelou to the literary world was akin to, well, the image of a caged bird does come to mind. There are those who merely exist, there are those who live, and there are those who take life hostage.

Life never stood a chance against Maya Angelou. She held the cards, and it was she who dictated how the game was to be played and how the story was to ultimately be written. Words can be powerful things, but powerful words employed by a uniquely brilliant mind such as the one owned and operated by Sister Angelou become weapons of liberation and mass education. Her life exemplified the elusive crossroads that most true artists spend their lives trying to find, namely the junction where art and humanity come to join hands and Praise God.

From the Washington Post:

From her desperate early years, Ms. Angelou gradually moved into nightclub dancing and from there began a career in the arts that spanned more than 60 years. She sang cabaret and calypso, danced with Alvin Ailey, acted on Broadway, directed for film and television and wrote more than 30 books, including poetry, essays and, responding to the public’s appetite for her life story, six autobiographies.

She won three Grammy Awards for spoken-word recordings of her poetry and prose and was invited by President-elect Bill Clinton toread an original poem at his first inauguration in 1993, making her only the second poet in history, after Robert Frost, to be so honored.

Her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” spoke of a hope that the country’s diverse people would find new unity after chapters in American history of oppression and division.

“Lift up your eyes upon/The day breaking for you,” she said as the nation watched. “Give birth again/To the dream.”

On the pulse of mourning…



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Writer and musician.

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