OF REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA  - Founded 24 January 1895

4:00 P.M.

February 28, 2002

"I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings"
-- Maya Angelou

angelou.jpg (72290 bytes)

by Richard L. Wilkerson

Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library

If it has been a while since you've experienced the ininutable voice of Maya Angelou, this is a wonderful way to remind yourself just why she's one of America's most celebrated word smiths. Angelou shares stories, memories, and observations about life and the things that make it worth living. Her experience in Los Angeles in 1974 showed what she could do: in film, television, original screenplays, musical scores, and even a ten-part TV series. She has received numerous honorary degrees, served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Film Institute Directors Guild.

In a voice than can be somber and lighthearted, lyrical and raunchy, Angelou shares what she has learned at key moments in her later years. In a story of a marriage that soured with the choice of dwelling, she describes how a house can hurt and how a home can heal. She is fiumy on the subject of growing older ("At 60, my body, which had never displayed a mind of its own, turned obstreperous, opinionated, and deliberately treacherous"); joyful on the pleasures of sensuality ("I have reached the lovely age where I can admit that sensuality satisfies me as much as sexuality"); sincere in her tribute to Oprah Winfrey; and ferocious when she talks about violence.

The beauty of Angelou's language is always evident, but you remember you're in the hands of a poet when she begins an essay on vacations with the statement: "After creating the universe, all stars, each grain of sand, the hump back whale and the soft shell crab, even God tired aid took a day ofE" Angelou is a wonderful writer who knows how to live.

At President Bill Clinton's request, Maya Angelou wrote and read the first offical inaugural poem in 32 years, called "On The Pulse of Morning".

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