Creative. Entertaining. Powerful. These are words that are used to describe poet and best-selling author Maya Angelous presentations.
She will be bringing her inspirational message to Charleston this month when she headlines the Gazette-WVU Festival of Ideas lecture series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at Geary Auditorium, University of Charleston. Tickets, distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning April 9 have been depleted.
With the rhythm of her poetry and elegance of her prose, Angelou captivates audiences and helps them span the lines of race and class.
Born in St. Louis, Miss., she spent her early years in Stamps, Ark., before moving to San Francisco. She studied drama and dance with Pearl Primus in New York, and in 1952 joined the European tour of”Porgy and Bess.”
She married a South African freedom fighter and moved first to Cairo and then to Ghana. In both countries, she worked as a journalist, and became the first woman editor of Cairos”The Arab Observer,”the only English-language news weekly in the Middle East.
In the 1960s, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr., she became the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was also appointed by President Gerald Ford to the Bicentennial Commission, and by President Jimmy Carter to the National Commission on the Observance of International Womens Year.
In the film industry, Angelou has been a groundbreaker for black women. Her screenplay,”Georgia, Georgia,”was the first original script by a black woman to be produced. As a writer/producer for 20th Century Fox, her film”Sister, Sisters,”became the companys first full-length effort.
Her best-selling autobiography,”I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing,”was a special for CBS in 1979, and she most recently played a role in Universal Pictures,”How To Make an American Quilt.”She was nominated in 1977 for an Emmy for her supporting role in”Roots,”and her inaugural poem for President Clinton,”On the Pulse of the Morning,”was presented with a Grammy Award for best spoken word album.
Among other best-selling books of poetry and prose are:”Just Give me a Cool Drink of WaterFore I Diiee,”nominated for a Pulitzer Prize;”Gather Together in my Name;”“Phenomenal Women;”“Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well;”“And Still I Rise;”“The Heart of a Woman;”and”All Gods Children Need Traveling Shoes.”
Angelou is currently at work on a series of books about children of different cultures.
She holds a lifetime position as the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at WakeForestUniversity, and has been awarded over 30 honorary doctorate degrees from universities nationwide.
The WVU -Gazette series, now in its second season, concludes May 7 with a 7:30 p.m. presentation by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The lecture will be held at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater.
For more information, call 304-558-3480.