Tag Archives: Maya Angelou

Authors I’d love to meet and announcements

Hey y’all! This week has gone by in a crazy flash. Today is my cover reveal for my short story collection! Swing by my Facebook author page and check it out. (Have you liked me on there? If not, you probably should. I post articles, shout out other indie authors, pun memes etc…)

I made a video this week about authors I’d love to sit and have a coffee with. And I talk about a couple announcements in it, including two things I’m really excited about– 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion and the #writestuff Google Hangout. For more info, check out the video!

Which authors would you like to meet? Let me know in the comments.

Aloha y’all!

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Maya Angelou taught me to recognize the value in me

My_Heroes_-_Maya_Angelou_connected_with_countless_people_through_her_powerful_poetry

Maya Angelou was a driving force behind me acknowledging that I am a poet, and the rest are just adjectives modifying me for someone’s consumption.

I was first introduced to her work in the 8th grade. My brother’s then-girlfriend was putting on a production for Black History Month at my junior high school. She gave me the poem Phenomenal Woman to memorize and recite in front of the entire student body. I was painfully shy, and was so scared. She didn’t take the time to coach me to do it, she just stripped me of the honor and allowed someone else to do it. I’ve never forgotten how small that made me feel. There’s been other times in life where I felt my voice silenced, my opinions unwarranted, unwanted and undesirable.

Yet, that poem stayed with me. As I grew older, the word’s and their meaning took root inside of me.

They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery…

We never met.

I didn’t have the privilege of holding her weathered hand in mine, listening to her talk story. Her smile shone with an inner peace that I wanted, and her words dripped like honeyed wisdom and I hoped they would sweeten my bitter insides. I wanted to learn her way. Walk in her shoes so that I too could write something greater than myself.

The closest I came to her was when Dr. Angelou was at my Alma mater West Virginia University in 2001. I smuggled in a small micro-recorder and tried to absorb her words into my very skin. The opportunity to hear from a role model is often fleeting. I needed all the words. Of course, the recorder was lost along the many moves I’ve had to make, but I wore the words on my heart. To remind me that being beaten, hadn’t made me broken. The importance of following my path was paramount to making any positive impact in life.

When I try to show them,   

They say they still can’t see…

 I know her basic facts:

If you’d like a more complete history, here’s her official web site. When Maya Angelou admitted that her mother’s  boyfriend at 7 years old, he was found and stomped to death. She was convinced her voice had the power to kill and stopped talking for six years. She spoke more about this and the other traumas of growing poor and black in the Jim Crow South south in I know Why a Caged Bird Sings (1969).

Angelou dropped out of school and later returned to high school to get her diploma. She gave birth a few weeks after graduation. She worked as a waitress and later a dancer and singer. She toured Europe in the mid-1950s in the opera production “Porgy and Bess.” When she would forget lyrics on stage, she would dance for the people. They loved it. In 1957, she recorded her first album, “Miss Calypso.”

While in Ghana, Angelou met Malcolm X and, in 1964, returned to America with him to help form his Organization of African American Unity. In 1958, Angelou become a part of the Harlem Writers Guild in New York. She wrote I know why the Caged bird sings with the encouragement of the Harlem Writers Guild, but especially James Baldwin.

I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style…

The value in me

She taught me that my words matter. That I’m more than a sum of my parts-black skin, thick-lips, woman, breasts, hips, that the    truth to my  power is in all of me. To allow no one to speak for me, or to judge me. This path is mine alone, and I  would work the hell out of it. Acknowledge those before me and since who have attempted this path, but to make forge my way. That finding my inner strength and learning from the bad things will take me further. That being a woman made me a force to be reckoned with.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me…
(Except from Phenomenal Woman from “And Still I Rise,” Maya Angelou (1978 ))
Thank Maya Angelou for showing us all that the scars we carry do not have to be silenced forever. Giving them a voice empowers us and can help others to speak.

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Quirky writing habits

People have been talking a lot about daily writing routines. Kurt Vonnegut’s daily routine was recently published, which basically was a living life and adding some writing on top like sprinkles. (Little sprinkles made of ink? Hmm…that may have fallen apart. Anyway…)

Here’s a cool article from Brain PIckings about famous writers and their writing schedules. All of these writers have their own thing, it seems. Maya Angelou wakes up in the morning, writes and then afterward takes a second shower, because “writing is such hard work, so you have to

This is my poetry pad. You can't see how battered and well-used it is.

This is my poetry pad. You can’t see how battered and well-used it is.

do a double ablution,” she told the Paris Review. Truman Capote liked to write while laying down with a cigarette and coffee. He told Paris Review that was for the initial writing. Editing took place in the afternoon and his drinks went from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. Granted I’m by no means famous, but I am a writer, so I’m weighing in.

I hadn’t thought about it before, but I guess I have a writing thing that I do. I don’t like to write first drafts of poetry on ANY electronic device. I prefer a steno flip book pad. You know the kind that has the wire spiral on top. Also, I’m a pen snob: not by brand, but appearance and feel. Buying me pens is a hit or miss prospect as the Mathemagician recently found. (Really, a steel pen with a rubber grip? How perfectly vulgar.)  As I write, I realize that it may seem a little eccentric, and perhaps a trifle nerdy.

It’s not the same for writing articles though. Technology works well for them. My novels, I try to start them on my laptop, but inevitably, I start writing in a spiral notebook. **sad moment: My notebook that had my rough draft was left in the car where it was rained on. Nooooooo…**

Do you have a some “weird” habit that you need to do in order to write for the day? Do you have a spot on your porch that you like to sit at because you can see the sunrise there? Do you only wear black when you write, and drink Earl Grey? Let me hear about it in the comments.

Aloha ya’ll!

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