I couldn’t pass up today without doing a quick post about this. Whether a writer or not, everyone has heard of, and have at least read one book, by Maya Angelou.
Maya Angelou, the woman who graced us with her lyrical words and books about growing up in the Jim Crow South, while proving herself to be a Renaissance woman, died today at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was 86-years-old.
There’s so much to say about her; about her numerous occupations (the first black woman to work as a streetcar conductor in San Francisco being one of them), to what she’s gone through, but most of all, to her way with words. I think that’s what most people will remember her for; her words.
She may have written only non-fiction, and some of her poetry may even be considered sad. But it’s how she used words that she made a profound effect on the reading world- and then some. She knew how to use language as a way of keeping it real, but keeping it real in a really effective manner.
It’s with that matter that I- amongst many other people today- find learning her death so shocking. This wasn’t at all like when I found out that Gabriel Garcia Marquez had passed away. I have read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and a bunch of her poetry and quotes too; so it’s because of the fact that I was already familiar with the power of her written work that it hits me over and over again that she’s actually gone.
When I told my mom about her passing, she asked how old she was. When I told her she was 86, she said how she didn’t think she was that old; thinking she was in her 70’s at least. Maya Angelou had lived a long time, but I don’t think anyone would think that much as to what her age was. She was a timeless human being.
Let us continue her legacy by continuing to read, share and discuss her work, for the echoes of her words are truly eternal. The caged bird is free.
Side Note: Like I said before, I know I don’t normally post on Wednesdays. However, because of the fact that the death of Maya Angelou marks the passing of such an influential American icon, I had to contribute something to the emerging dialogue about her. Anyway, I will have a new post on Saturday as always and I look forward to that.
RIP Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928-May 28, 2014)