Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Obituary: Maya Angelou

Major literary figure Maya Angelou, 86, has died. She is remembered for her several volumes of memoirs detailing her life in the Jim Crow South and for her poetry.

Three years ago she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.

From the obit:

Throughout her writing, Ms. Angelou explored the concepts of personal identity and resilience through the multifaceted lens of race, sex, family, community and the collective past. As a whole, her work offered a cleareyed examination of the ways in which the socially marginalizing forces of racism and sexism played out at the level of the individual.

“If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat,” Ms. Angelou wrote in “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

Hallmarks of Ms. Angelou’s prose style included a directness of voice that recalls African-American oral tradition and gives her work the quality of testimony. She was also intimately concerned with sensation, describing the world around her — be it Arkansas, San Francisco or the foreign cities in which she lived — with palpable feeling for its sights, sounds and smells.

She was married several times. One of her husbands was actually the ex-husband of feminist writer Germaine Greer.

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