Prolific writer Maya Angelou shows little sign of slowing down

By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American author Maya Angelou has written more than 30 books, won numerous awards, released her latest work, "Mom & Me & Mom," earlier this year, and at the age of 85 shows little sign of slowing down.

Best known for her groundbreaking autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," Angelou is already working on her next book and will be honored at the National Book Awards ceremony on Wednesday, along with "Ragtime" author E. L. Doctorow, for her service to the literary community.

The prolific African-American poet, writer, teacher and Grammy winner for three spoken-word albums, said she is delighted with the accolade and stressed the importance of books and reading.

"I have become a writer and the woman I am in many cases because of the books I have read," she said in an interview from her home in North Carolina.

Angelou believes reading is particularly important in a technological age filled with audio books, social media and smartphones.

"To hold a book in your hand and read it aloud, with your own rhythms and stretches, somehow the story becomes more realistic," she said. "It has a feeling of being a fairy tale when read to, but becomes reality when you read it."

Angelou's "I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings" is a coming-of-age story in a hostile society in the American South in the 1930s and '40s that deals with racism and rape. It is considered an American classic.

But it was her latest autobiography, "Mom & Me & Mom," about her mother and grandmother and what they taught her, that she said was probably the hardest book to write.

"Love heals. If there is any one thing I am saying (in the book) it is love heals," she said. "Her teaching me taught me also to not hesitate, to give love and to forgive. It was a blessing."

In addition to her memoirs and poetry, Angelou has published essays, a children's book and even a cookbook, but her favorite form is poetry.

"I love to work in poetry. It takes me over completely," she said.

Whether there will be another autobiography is still uncertain. She said her next book, "Encounters," will not really be an autobiography, but it will be about meeting people who have influenced her life.

"It will surprise people that I had an encounter with Mr. Mike Tyson and it changed the way I thought about a number of things," she said about the former world heavyweight boxing champion, who is as well known for his troubled personal life as his prowess in the ring.

Her advice for the aspiring writers, authors and the 2013 National Book Award finalists who will be vying for prizes in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and young people's literature is simple: Read out loud.

"Go into a room, close the door and take a book you know, or don't know, and read it aloud. You will hear the melody," she said. (Editing by Eric and David Brunnstrom)

--

Did you know that you can get stories like this on the Yahoo mail app?
Download it here.

Yahoo Cricket

Latest News

  • 'Manhattanhenge' to bathe New York streets in sunburst of colour
    'Manhattanhenge' to bathe New York streets in sunburst of colour

    By Barbara Goldberg NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thousands of camera-toting tourists, commuters and residents will catch a glimpse of the setting sun framed perfectly in New York's east-west street grid on Friday evening, when an annual phenomenon known as "Manhattanhenge" captivates the city. The precise alignment of the glowing sun with Manhattan's east-west thoroughfares occurs on Friday and Saturday at 8:12 p.m. (05:42 am IST), according to Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the American Museum of …

  • Women in photos won't press charges in Penn State frat case, police say

    By David DeKok HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - None of the women in nude photographs posted on a Facebook page for a now-suspended Penn State fraternity is cooperating with investigators, police said on Friday, frustrating efforts to bring charges against the fraternity's members. Earlier this week, Pennsylvania State University suspended the school's Kappa Delta Rho chapter for three years after discovering a private Facebook page that included photos of female students who were undressed, and …

  • Suge Knight hires Michael Jackson ex-attorney in California murder trial
    Suge Knight hires Michael Jackson ex-attorney in California murder trial

    One-time rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight formally changed his attorney on Friday in the murder case against him, bringing in the lawyer who successfully represented Michael Jackson when the late pop star was acquitted on child molestation charges a decade ago. Knight, 50, appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit accompanied by his newly hired attorney Tom Mesereau during a brief hearing. The co-founder of Death Row Records has been charged with murder, …

  • Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch on market for $100 million
    Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch on market for $100 million

    The sprawling Neverland ranch in California once owned by the late pop star Michael Jackson is for sale for $100 million, Sotheby's International Realty said on Friday. "It officially went on the market this morning," Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby's said. "We hope and trust that any new owners of Neverland will respect the historical importance and special nature of this wonderful property. …

  • Actor Jim Parsons takes on heavenly role in 'An Act of God'
    Actor Jim Parsons takes on heavenly role in 'An Act of God'

    By Patricia Reaney NEW YORK (Reuters) - With two winged angels at his side, actor Jim Parsons assumes a divine role as he reveals another story of the six days of creation and issues a revised version of the Ten Commandments in the new Broadway comedy "An Act of God." Parsons, a multiple Emmy winner for his role as the nerdy scientist Sheldon Cooper in the hit TV comedy "The Big Bang Theory," is God in the play that opened on Thursday night for a limited run at Studio 54. God inhabits …

  • Malian quartet Songhoy Blues sing lovesongs to their homeland in exile
    Malian quartet Songhoy Blues sing lovesongs to their homeland in exile

    By Anastasia Gorelova LONDON (Reuters) - Three years ago, the singer of Malian quartet Songhoy Blues was fleeing Islamist militants who had banned all music. This Thursday, his group electrified the crowd with its relentlessly upbeat African rhythms at London's Village Underground venue.     Many musicians joined the flood of civilians fleeing northern Mali after Islamist militants took over there in 2012, said Songhoy Blues singer and guitarist Aliou Touré, before the band's sold-out gig. …

  • Virtual reality film aims to raise funds by giving Nepal quake experience
    Virtual reality film aims to raise funds by giving Nepal quake experience

    By Nita Bhalla NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A virtual reality film aims to help raise funds for survivors of last month's earthquake in Nepal by giving viewers a first-hand experience of the disaster's aftermath, the director said on Friday. Los Angeles-based company RYOT - which produces news stories for audiences to act on - shot the footage in the days following the 7.8 magnitude quake which struck the impoverished nation on April 25, killing more than 8,000 people. "As …

  • Trip Tips: Music, beaches and "fromagers" in Senegal's Casamance

    By Carolyn Cohn ZIGUNICHOR, Senegal (Reuters) - A mix of locals and music fans were watching silently or dancing, framed by the branches of the giant "fromager" tree that marks the centre of the Senegalese village of Diembering, as hip-hop band Tirailleurs started to sing about me. Or at least apparently they did - if only I could understand their Wolof language. Tirailleurs were performing at the four-day Festival des Rizieres, an annual celebration of hip-hop and reggae in the southern …

Loading...