Maya Angelou takes a simple but poetic view of the process of aging. One of the important
growing old, she says, is that the elderly are no longer forced to hold their tongues but may say
what comes to mind. They are also free to laugh as they please.
There are naturally the handicaps like dribbling and the brittleness of their bones but they
wonderful memories of a whole life to draw upon.
A NOTE ON THE POET
Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in April 1928. Her life story is a remarkable one,
up in poor circumstances and a victim of a shattered home.
She was raped by her mother's boyfriend when she was just eleven years old, an incident which
her to become selectively mute for many years until she had her self-confidence and honour
her through the help of a friend.
Her shocking childhood, however, led to a struggle to maturity and she fell pregnant because
of her efforts
to prove she was a woman. Her marriages to both Tosh Angelou and Paul Du Feu ended in
She nevertheless overcame all these disadvantages and found a niche on the stage and later
screen, acting in several award-winning productions. She has also made a name for herself in
the arena of film directing.
Today Maya Angelou is renowned as a poet and writer, an actress and director, and was an
figure in the American Civil Rights Movement.
She is the author of 12 best-selling books and innumerable poems. Indeed, she is one of the
Black authors of the modern day, and the recipient of numerous top awards. She also speaks
She has been described as one of the great voices of contemporary literature and as a
Renaissance woman because of her ability to overcome all obstacles and utilize her talents to
Despite her lack of any form of college education, she has lectured at several universities. In
assumed a lifetime position as the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest
University. She has subsequently been awarded Honorary Doctorates from several leading
In January 1993 she was asked to read one of her poems at the inauguration of President Bill
honour only happening once before and that to the great American poet, Robert Frost.
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