Bristol's Badass Burlesque Show
Dr. Maya Angelou was a force that stayed with me from early teen-hood through adulthood. I remember first being introduced to her through her memoir I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings by my beloved 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Brooke Dingledine. I read and re-read it captivated by the luscious prose that somehow never became overwrought. I related to the protagonist, Maya and was heartbroken at her rough treatment by not just society but by actual, individual human beings. As Maya slips in to near muteness, she regains her voice under the firm tutelage of Mrs. Bertha Flowers and an encouraged love of books and reading. This, I understood.
As an older teenager, I became interested in James Baldwin and subsequently discovered Maya Angelou’s poetry. And Still I Rise sat on my bookshelf next to Sylvia Plath’s Ariel. The words, ploughed from the red clay of Western Africa, sent up the Mississippi River and settled in to the frenetic pace of New York City. Once again, I was captivated by Miss Maya.
As dance became, and continues to become, the focus of my life, I returned once again to Maya Angelou. Through her work I learned about Alvin Ailey and Pearl Primus. Her performances are like her prose; fluid, heady, powerful, weighty and lighter than air. The photos of her dancing excite me. Her lines are flawless. I refer to them frequently to remind me to work harder, get stronger.
I currently do not own a single book by Maya Angelou. I have purchased a number of her memoirs and collected works over time, but I have always given them away. There is always someone in need of the warm embrace and steely gaze of Miss Maya.
There are so many quotes from Maya Angelou that I could close here with. I choose this one.