Maya Angelou was a grand dame and aesthetic pioneer. She died Wednesday at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, her son, Guy B. Johnson, said in a statement to the press early this morning. The 86-year-old had been a professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University since 1982. "She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace," Johnson said.
I remember her poetry. I cried when she read "On the Pulse of the Morning" at President Bill Clinton's first inauguration. Her confident performance made publishing history by making a poem a best-seller, a national favorite. For President George W. Bush, she read another poem, "Amazing Peace," at the 2005 Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the White House. Presidents honored her in return with a National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor. In 2013, she received an honorary National Book Award.
She mastered several languages and published not just poetry, but advice books, cookbooks and children's stories. She wrote music, plays and screenplays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in "Roots," and never lost her passion for dance, the art she considered closest to poetry.
Maya Angelou, thank you for sharing words, laughter, and life. You are missed already, but not forgotten, ever.
they rolled off her tongue,
like water off a ducks back.
delectable, dizzying, pulsating, rhythms of dance.
unique as each individual.
In remembrance of Maya Angelou.