09 September, 2006

My Heroes: ( 15 ) Maya Angelou

Born: Marguerite Johnson, 1928, St. Louis, Missouri
Dr. Maya Angelou is 'Renaissance Woman', being a poet, playwriter, author, director, producer and Civil Rights activist and my personal suspicion is that America in general, does not give her due recognition. She is, naturally, an icon to the African-American cummunity but she deserves recognition beyond that. She has been bestowed with scores of honourary degrees. My own favourite work is one of several auto-biographies, 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' and I recommend it as an introduction to her work. She grew up in a rural southern town that was so segregated that she wasn't sure that white people actually existed! The book is an extremely frank account of her early life and can be seen as a useful parallel to 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. A persistent motif throughout the book is that of strong black women who resist rascism in their lives.
Incidentally, she acquired her name Maya from her older brother who could not pronounce Marguerite and called her 'Mya Sister'. As an adult she chose to be called Maya.

99 Comments:

Blogger Rob said...

As you say, it is a pity that she is not adMAYAd more widely. (Apologies for the pun)

Saturday, September 09, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

Ouch!

Saturday, September 09, 2006  
Blogger gem said...

Bazza, I loved Caged Bird. Haven't read it for years. So many books...so little time. Maya had a little boost in recogntion when Clinton was president because she was his favorite poet. She read her work at his inaugural. I think her literary gifts are widely acknowleged in the academic world (every must-read reading list contains Caged Bird), but as you point out, her gifts are not widely celebrated. It's interesting to me that you embrace her story. You are one extraordinary dude, bazza. Lovely post.

Sunday, September 10, 2006  
Blogger Mimi Lenox said...

Bazza....I totally agree with GEM. You are quite a "gem" yourself in the blogosphere - and yet undiscovered. We'll have to work on that!
I enjoy reading your literary expertise. Keeps me on my toes. 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' is a favorite of mine and one of those books you remember as leaving a permanent impression. Great post!

Sunday, September 10, 2006  
Blogger serenity said...

I certainly cannot speak on a global scale, but in the U.S. I have found it encouraging to see a poet of her stature receive the recognition she has, something I think is very unusual for poets generally in our modern day. Between coming to the forefront during the Clinton years, and her association with Oprah Winfrey, she is very much a part of culture (at least in the U.S.) and has reached many people who wouldn't normally even feel attracted to reading poetry.

Thank you for reminding us of her beauty in words and her important contributions.

Blessings of peace and joy flowing to you this glorious day...and thank you for your visits and very thought-provoking and insightful comments. You are greatly appreciated.

Sunday, September 10, 2006  
Blogger gem said...

Hey, serenity, I forgot about Oprah Winfrey's fondness for and quasi-sponsorship of Maya Angelou. That did give her more visibility. Oprah is one powerful woman.

Sunday, September 10, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

gem, mimi and serenity: I am overwhelmed by all of your very kind remarks. What a nice surprise! I think I may have under estimated Maya Angelou's US recognition - after all she is a serious living poet and they are hardly recognized anywhere.

Sunday, September 10, 2006  
Blogger jim said...

I don't know her well, but well enough to respect her for all these things mentioned. I see quotes around the blog, here and there, always very good thoughts and advice. She is a winner.

Sunday, September 10, 2006  
Blogger Raj said...

Hi Sir, How r u? Sorry could not keep in touch lately. I enjoyed ur posts on London bridge, Fiona Pitt-Kethley and American/British english.

Even we also face this problem. In schools we were taught British english, but by the time we join jobs our english gets mixed up between American and British. You may have noticed that in my English.

Monday, September 11, 2006  
Blogger spoon said...

An amazing woman!

Monday, September 11, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

jim: I like the notion that my posts can remind people of someone they knew about or, better yet, introduce a writer or artist.

raj:I know that you are a very respectful person but there's no need to call me 'sir'!
I have noticed that there is also Canadian & Australian English so we might as well have Indian English too. I often find that people in or from the sub-continent are among the best writers and speakers of English. Also, I see that there is now another form: Text English as in 'How r u ?'!

spoon:Welcome back. You have a very funny blog!

Monday, September 11, 2006  
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