Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
Two years since Maya Angelou passed on….In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Maya said, ” When I was 19 or 20, a wonderful thing happened to me—terrifying but wonderful. When I was younger, I thought my grandmother was probably God and she just wouldn’t tell anybody! She was so strong and kind. And when my grandmother died, I realized that even if I had millions of dollars, I couldn’t find her anywhere on earth. And my next thought was that I would die. Oprah, I used to go into my house, see that my son was asleep, and after turning all the locks on the door, I would put a chair under the doorknob. I didn’t realize that I was trying to keep death out. Then I began having trouble breathing. I didn’t have asthma, but my breathing was labored. Finally, I had to come to grips with what was the matter with me. I looked at my life and thought, “I’m afraid to die.” And I concluded that whether I was afraid or not, I would die. It was one of the most important crossroads in my life, because once I realized that no matter what, I would do this thing, the next step was to think, “If I am going to do the most difficult and frightening thing—dying—is it possible that I could do some difficult and maybe seemingly impossible things that are good?””
Here is one of my favorite poems by Maya Angelou
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.