Poet and memoirist Maya Angelou died today at the age of 86.
"Mrs. Flowers, a lady in my town, a black lady, had started me to reading, when I was about 8…I was already reading, but she started me reading in the black school and I read all the books in the black school library. She had some contact with the white school, and she would bring books to me, and I would just eat them up. When I was about 11 and a half, she said to me one day — I used to carry a tablet around on which I wrote answers — and she asked me, "Do you love poetry?" I wrote yes. It was a silly question from Mrs. Flowers. She knew. She told me, “You do not love poetry. You will never love it until you speak it, until it comes across your tongue, through your teeth, over your lips, you will never love poetry.” And I ran out of her house. I thought I’ll never go back there again. She was trying to take my friend.
She would catch me and say, “You do not love poetry, not until you speak it.” I’d run away and every time she’d see me she would just threaten to take my friend. Finally, I did take a book of poetry and I went under the house and tried to speak, and could.”