Wednesday, 28 May 2014

My heart is broken. But still, like air, I'll rise.

I have a blog because I love to write. It is my space to share thoughts, ideas, stories and sometimes a little bit of myself. Our house is littered with my many notebooks and our walls are covered with shelves filled to capacity with books. I keep pens to hand everywhere, in pockets, old mugs, on every windowsill and in empty jars and occasionally actual pen pots. I never throw out paper. It is used for drawing, or shopping lists or ideas that have suddenly come to me while I was chopping veg - yes this does happen.

I always loved writing and would find any excuse to write when I was at school and I collected books that I would buy for a few pence at jumble sales or school fayres. My bookshelf at home was small, but filled with precious jewels that spoke to me and only me and took me to places I had never heard of and could only imagine. I read anything and everything and would read books so quickly that the school reading scheme ran out and I was sent to the library to find books to read instead. I read all of them too and for a while my favourite books were a big book with photos of minerals and crystals in it and another called Mathemagic which is now out of print. Yes for a while back there I was interested in science and maths. I know Hubbie is open-mouthed at this last fact so let's just wait for him to get up off the floor shall we ?


The books I read were the usual ones by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis, the Heidi stories, and anything that was a series of books appealed the most as it didn't have to end. What the school library of James Wolfe Junior School did not have was any books by black authors - or at least none I knew of. It wasn't until I went to secondary school that I finally read Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry which was a darker story than I was used to reading and led me to find I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. From the first time I read a Maya Angelou book I knew I loved her. The writing was fluid and even though I hadn't heard her speak, in my head I could imagine the voice she was reading to me in. When I did hear her voice years later it was richer and far more beautiful that I could ever have known.


When I finished reading her first book I re-read it and then I read the next one and then the next one and so on until there were no more left. I had to know this woman, dammit I had to be her. Vibrant, brave, clever, capable of anything, so very beautiful and she was black and from a poor family. It was the first time I'd seen a woman who was so accomplished and made me think it might be possible for me to do it too. It made me realise it was ok to write about real life and to be honest about myself and that didn't make me a bad person.



I always promised myself I'd see her perform live and I even looked into studying in America at the university where she was a professor so I would meet her. It was a dream I was unable to fulfil and now she has passed away it won't happen. I listen to her voice and see her kindly face and it's like I actually know her. As though she is behind my hand when I write something honest, painful, raw and possibly beautiful.


Her poetry empowered me, her activism inspired me, her writing spoke to me. She gave me my passion for writing and helped me to learn to love the colour of my skin. She even helped me to understand that what is done to us does not define what we become.

The news that Dr Maya Angelou has passed away has broken my heart.

It also reminds me that I write because it is my passion.



Dr Maya Angelou (4th April 1928 - 28th May 2014)


15 comments:

  1. Such a loss. You have written so beautifully about her here.

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    1. Thank you - I was so sad to hear the news - she will be greatly missed.

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  2. Such a beautiful post. Thank you.

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    1. You're very kind to say so - thank you for reading and sharing :)

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  3. She was an icon. Phenomenally so.

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    1. Absolutely - an inspiration :)

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  4. I really enjoyed reading your post and I'll be heading to the library to borrow some of her books soon!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment - I am sure you will enjoy her books. Do let me know what you think :)

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  5. I heard an old interview with her on the radio today. She sounded so merry and sweet, but she suffered so terribly in her early years. She was in her late seventies at the time, but she said she still couldn't believe she was over 60. I love that youthfulness of spirit - something to aspire to. This is a marvellous post - really beautiful.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, commenting and sharing. She was an amazing woman who inspired love and goodness in so many.

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  6. Thank you. This is beautiful.

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    1. You're welcome - thank you for saying so :)

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  7. Thank you for this. It's beautiful.

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  8. I read just the first five of Maya Angelou's autobiographies (at least 10 years ago) & I can still recall the scene in Stamps when she was listening to the boxing match & how well she could bring her own memories to life. You have written beautifully about her & no wonder Barack Obama had her as an inspirational speaker at his inaugaration. I feel that I might buy her books instead of borrowing from our library (I never did get the last two out on loan-they were never on the shelf!)

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  9. Such a beautiful tribute. She was truly one of those voices that once heard remains in your head forever.

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