Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Composer

"People are always saying they're serious. 'I'm serious, I'm serious.' Well I don't care if you're serious or not, but you're boring as hell."
--- Dr. Maya Angelou

I had the distinct pleasure of listening to a lecture from Dr. Maya Angelou last night in the Stamp Student Union at the University of Maryland.

So elegant in a long black, silk gown, her Arkansas drawl told us of her travels, life growing up in the heat of segregation and the quirkiness of herself and others. Her storytelling melted through you, is the only was I could describe it.

Dr. Angelou spoke about being a "composer" of your own life, people to people connections and how she mistakenly walked into a vegetarian diner as a carnivore. Tad and I both agreed it was extremely refreshing to hear someone so refined and respected be so open, laid back and laughing.

"I stopped going to airports. After Air France and all, but also I stopped going to airports because people would grab me. In all other places, people will just point and whisper 'that looks like Maya Angelou' or come up to me and say 'I like your work,' but in airports, they lose all that. They tug at me and hand me their babies, 'excuse me, would you like to change them first?' So now I have a bus, and coming from Des Moines, I mean it when I say I'm very happy to be here."

The other thing that struck me was Dr. Angelou's discussion of the "N-word" and any other words used to degrade people of all color and type. She called those words "poison" and said she leaves the room if anyone, even her own kin, use those words because "then it goes into the carpets, the flooring, the walls, the drapes, then it's on my clothes, and on my skin, and into my body, and through my heart and it's poison."I completely agree with that.

It was obvious why this woman had won so many awards for her writing and I felt honored to have been able to hear her speak.

Image credit: Jaclyn Borowski/The Diamondback

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