Sunday, April 27, 2008

Maya Angelou

On NPR I heard Maya Angelou being interviewed by Tavis Smiley, and, as a tribute to National Poetry Month, she recited the following poem:

On Aging
When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don't think I need your chattering.
I'm listing to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don't pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I'll so without it!

When my bones are stiff and aching,
and my feet won't climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don't bring me no rocking chair.

When you see me walking, stumbling,
Don't study and get it wrong.
'Cause tired don't mean lazy
And every goodbye ain't gone.
I'm the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain't I lucky I can still breathe in.

_Maya Angelou

Tavis also interviewed an up and coming poet, Evan Brown. You can listen here. He made the point that this generation seems be more connected to poetry with all the poetry slams in coffee houses.


Cat said...

I love Maya Angelou's work, and I love to hear her recite it, most of all. Lovely stuff. Oh, Sweet Honey in the Rock does some of her poetry, too, and they're very good. Thanks for sharing this.

Kalleh said...

Yes, I agree, Cat. I was at a conference in the fall where she spent the evening with the participants. I was so irritated because I was flying in from another conference and had to miss her. She did recite this poem on NPR, though, and it was beautiful. She talked with Tavis Smiley about aging. She said she used to have buttery smooth skin and hadn't expected it to turn to leather. She also said that she hadn't expected that all her joints would ache so much when she got out of bed. She is just a sweetie!

Maya also told the story of helping Martin Luther King and of being so devastated when he died that she went into a clinical depression. She didn't get out of bed, bathe, or take care of herself. A friend finally was able to help her.