Monthly Archives: May 2014

RIP Maya Angelou: maybe it’s time I finally read her work

Bad first impressions linger, but perhaps it’s time I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Maya Angelou reciting her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, January 1993. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Angelou reciting her poem “On the Pulse of Morning”, at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, January 1993

It’s shameful how many authors and books that I “should have read” I haven’t yet gotten around to. Especially given that I hold an MA in English and am a published author of poetry, fiction and nonfiction and have freakin’ taught literature at the college level.

The list of canonical texts I haven’t read … well, all I can really do is observe is that there are so damned many books that we all ought to know, and very few folks have read them all, and while I haven’t read many that I should have, I have read a great many books, and probably have read quite a few that should be on that Great Books list but aren’t. Perhaps that’s not a sufficient defense, but it’s all I have.

One of the authors whom I perhaps should have read is Maya Angelou, the writer and activist who spent that last three decades as a professor at my alma mater, Wake Forest. It seems like everyone loved her. I mean, everyone. I have friends who took her classes or worked with her and they rave about her even more than those who only know her as readers. Read more