Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Pen of Maya Angelou

When working, Maya usually researches and writes about 16 hours a day, but it's always been difficult for her to write at home. To solve that problem, Maya rents a tiny hotel room. Waking about 4:00 am, she goes to the hotel about 7:00 am and works at least six hours... In the hotel room, Maya keeps a dictionary, a thesaurus, a Bible, and a pack of cards. An occasional game of solitaire keeps her hands busy while she thinks. There's a bed in the room, but she never rests on it.Maya writes longhand with a pen on lined, yellow legal pads. Sometimes her eyelids swell closed from fatigue and her back aches. At 64, her arthritis is bothersome.*

When I pick up the pen to write I have to scrape across those scars to sharpen the point.**

Maya Angelou, 4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014 (aged 86)


*Maya Angelou by L. Patricia Kite, 1999
**Maya Angelou to Bill Moyers, PBS interview, quoted in I know why the Caged Bird Sings: A Casebook by Joanne M. Braxton, 1999.
Photo from Eye On Life Magazine


  1. Maya Angelou was already Establishment when I was a young man in the 1970s. Later, in middle age, I took up a bit of amateur versifying, recited my own verse, and was promptly congratulated for saying things I hadn't thought I'd said. Poetry done well is hard.

    Maya Angelou's name was still around, as Establishment, in my mind's eye, as ever, a sort of court poet. If I'd known anything at all about her younger life and her struggle to move beyond it, I'd have thought better of how I dismissed her. I think it was Robert Graves after his WWI experience who said something like poetry is a way of being in the world. I'll guess that may describe Maya Angelou's legacy.

  2. Sorry, that's my comment above. Jack/USA