Maya Angelou speaks at ASU

 Maya Angelou - March 28,2008 7:30 PM St. Sabina African American Speaking Series

photo credit

Last night I went to see Maya Angelou speak.

It was a spontaneous invitation by some bookclub friends as they had an extra ticket. I am soooo glad they did. Otherwise, I would have missed out on something really spectacular.

Admittedly, I don’t know too much about Dr. Angelou outside of her poetry achievements. I do have a copy of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, but it has been ages since I read it.

At first I didn’t know what to expect; however, Izzy and B’s mother both told me they had seen her before and that she was uh-may-zing.

So I tried not to expect amazing, while expecting amazing.

And it was.

She may appear small from the orchestra, but her presence is strong and powerful. Her voice is commanding. It is very deep, almost masculine, and throaty. 

I was surprised the first time she interspersed song with her recital of her poems. I quickly grew accustomed to it. Her singing is even more powerful than her spoken word.

Also, the woman is funny. She has a wicked sense of humor.

Not only did she recite poetry-hers and that of other poets-she shared stories ranging from childhood to touring adventures. Some were funny, some were poignant.

I find it difficult to put into words exactly what it was like, how moving it was, how compelling. How my heart was churning and full and bursting. How I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.

I loved the way she spoke of how we could be rainbows in the clouds for others. How we have influence, even if we are unaware. How only equals make friends.

She also spoke of courage. That courage is the most important virtue as it allows you to express the other virtues all the time. “Anyone can be kind, loving, or truthful sporadically.  It takes courage to be these things all of the time.” (Paraphrasing)

She showed us her Presidential Award for Freedom medal.  She told us stories about her Uncle Willie and her brother. She told a story about her son. She told us about one time she was on an airplane and the pilot came out of the cockpit to speak to her. She asked him who was flying the plane. Now she rides a bus while touring. She shared the poem she wrote for the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. (“Whenever someone asks me to do a good thing I say yes.”)

Listening to her was inspiring. It was so what I needed at this very moment in time. A smoothie for my soul.

Now I want to pull out my copy of Caged Bird and get reacquainted with Angelou’s words.

Have any of you had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Angelou? If so, I would love to hear about your experience.

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14 Responses to Maya Angelou speaks at ASU

  1. Kimberly says:

    Who wouldn’t want a smoothie for their soul?!? Sounds fantastic.

  2. Bumbles says:

    What a nice spur of the moment treat. I’m glad you were moved by the experience and that your spirit was given a boost. I like that statement – that only equals can be real friends. So true.

  3. izzybella says:

    AH-MAY-ZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really do love her so much. She has so much humor and compassion, but she’s also a take no BS kind of person. I just really admire her.

    And I like “Smoothie for the Soul.” Sounds so much treatier than chicken soup. 🙂

  4. kaye says:

    What an amazing experience.

  5. Margot says:

    Do you see me over here all green from head to toe? I am so envious. But I’m also so glad you had this chance to see such a living hero. Her life story is amazing and I believe you when you say she was amazing in person. I love your reaction to your experience. You said it just right.

  6. ds says:

    What a wonderful bit of serendipity–everyone needs a ‘smoothie for the soul.’ I have heard Dr. Angelou’s voice (recorded) and it is exactly as you describe it. Profound woman, profound soul.

  7. jehara says:

    serendipity indeed! 🙂

  8. Sam says:

    Though I’ve never had the honor of hearing Angelou speak, I think she’s amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your experience; it’s the next best thing to being there!

  9. stacybuckeye says:

    Wow. What an amazing experience. I read Caged Bird years ago too, but I think she probably is so much more than her books. I always see her as somene full of life experiences and it sounds like she made them all come to life.

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