Words are our friends …

Not just for those of us who write, but for the millions who read them. When on that cold and stormy night of legend, we feel alone and unloved, words come to warm us, to remind us that we always have a friend to lean on.

Today, I would like to do a tribute to a woman whose words have warmed many a cold night.

There are hundreds of thousands of words written by her and about her. It would be impossible to try to capture them all here in one of my humble weekly moments.

Love Liberates

Wherever you were raised, wherever you are now, whatever you believed or believe now, gather some of those thousands of words, hold them tight to your heart, let them seep into your soul … and for this … your life will be enriched.  You will be in a happy place. You will believe in yourself and to do what you love.

The first time, I was a late bloomer, in college at thirty-something. I was terrified to walk out the door, intimidated by the new and strange life I had chosen. And like so many gems I have mined in my life, I found her on 18th Street in Manhattan at the original Barnes & Noble.

“I make writing as much a part of my life

as I do eating or listening to music.”

It was on one of those days when I wanted to find more women poets. I had already fallen in love with so many of them. But on this day, I needed the comfort of another woman’s words to warm me. And I found I Know Why The Caged Bird Sing.

i-know-why-the-caged-bird-sings

Amazon Link

Did you know that words can wrap around you and hold you steady? They can protect you, fill your heart and soul with wonder, and they can liberate.

Words kept me from harm’s way and guided me along the path. Even with the knowing I was a half-decent person  and a half-competent mother, words opened my mind to see all that was good in this imperfect world we live in.

Do Right

Still, there are days when I think back on that young woman in her tattered jeans and her high hopes, and I smile. Did she find her way? Did she learn enough to raise good humans, those two humans she pushed into the world? What happened to her high hopes and her day dreams? Did she leave the path and lose her way?

Words came with me on a serpentine path that wove in and out my life. They were the pivotal crossroad where I might have taken the wrong turn. They were the many stops along the road, to rest, to find new adventure, to settle for a while before moving around the next bend in the road.

I love words because they are my only constant. From the toddler who was taken to Story Book Hour by her big brother, to the late blooming, senior citizen that I have become. Words have been my best friends and they have taught me much about who I am and who I will become before I take my last voyage.

What she was to me was a voice in the wilderness when I was lost, the whisper of a promise to keep, the courage to start over, even after I failed more than succeeded.

“To grow up is to stop putting blame on parents.”

In her honor, we will read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings in our book club for next season. We had already selected our line-up of books when a member called and wanted to substitute one selection for Maya.

My good buddy and BETA reader called and asked what I thought. I was thrilled. Perhaps there are members of our club who have never read her, or listened to her recite poetry, perhaps she will be a new voice for some. Yet, for those of us who knew her for a very long time, reading her again can only bring back fond memories.

Rereading a book you love is like visiting an old friend. Someone once asked me why I reread some of my books, often a dozen times. I’ve read my favorite poems hundreds of time, and like music I need to hear again and again, those words are a reminder that in another time, I found a friend who guided me along the way.

Make Maya’s words your friend. Visit YouTube and listen to the many videos of her, read about her life. You’ll be glad you did.

What books do you need to reread?

To remind yourself of other times?

To take you to a new place?

fOIS In The City

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16 Comments

Filed under Poetry Wednesday, Random Thoughts

16 responses to “Words are our friends …

  1. You’re right, Florence, we lost a treasure. But luckily she left a trail of words for us to follow….

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  2. A beautiful tribute to both the author and to the power of words. It is funny; I’ve been re-reading Shirley Jackson, a writer I’ve admired since I was ten. I found I still do.

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  3. Thank you SO much for this, Florence. I’ve not read her books nor have I ever seen a video of her. Both of the videos you posted made me cry. What she says is so simple yet so deep and helpful at the same time. I’m going to get “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. I’ve heard of it but never read it.
    Thanks again.

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    • Ah Patti … happy, happy, joy, joy. If I can turn one person on to this legend, then the purpose of this tribute has been realized. Let me know what you think of the book. And you are SO very welcome 🙂

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  4. Hi, Florence: I do reread books and did so this past winter, Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense books. Yes, I knew the plots; however, knowing the writing process better, I paid attention to description and action. I love her books. And a lovely tribute to Maya Angelou. You are a treasure too.

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    • Yes, Vicki … another legend that was lost. Mary Stewart defined and redefined what became the genre of romantic suspense. And no one did it better. Reading and reading her is like getting a free seminar 🙂

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  5. christicorbett

    A great tribute to a wonderful author. Thank you for creating this, it was a really wonderful read.

    Christi

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  6. annerallen

    What a lovely tribute. She was one of the greats. I sometimes re-read Mary Stewart too. It’s a great way to de-stress. And I re-read Vonnegut. So much packed into every sentence.

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  7. Beautiful tribute! We studied her poetry in my class this year and my students were so saddened by the news of her death. I typically don’t reread books . . . too many new ones waiting to be discovered. But I am rereading The Fault In Our Stars in preparation for the movie–going to a special event for it tomorrow with my daughter 🙂

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  8. Florence – You’ve captured the essence of her words in your own time and space. Yours is one of the many blogs I’ve read that has actually caused me to go to my shelves and pull her books for re-reading. I always enclose her book, ‘Why The Caged Bird Sings’ to every graduate (both high school or college we know) along with a copy of ‘Two Old Women” by Velma Wallis.

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