An Afternoon With Maya Angelou

Posted September 24th, 2009 by Deepa and filed in Books
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IMG00018-20090923-1504Some one at NIH decided that all the scientific minds at NIH could use a jolt of culture now and then. The result was the annual or semi-annual (not sure about the estimate of how frequently we need a culture dose) Cultural Lecture at NIH. This Wednesday’s lecture featured Maya Angelou – poet, author, teacher and in her own words a global renaissance woman.

I first read Maya Angelou in 2002. I was into reading African American literature those days, with a special emphasis on female authors. I had just completed “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest eye” and then Maya Angelou’s “I know why the caged bird sings”.  Incidentally all three books dealt with the travails of growing up as a black woman & described horrifying childhood atrocities with child molestation and the brutality against women.  All three books were thought-provoking powerful pieces of literature but I was uncomfortable with the depressing theme prevalent in all the books. Having grown up in a well to do Indian family, I was fast coming to the conclusion that it was impossible for me to empathize with the race struggles that African Americans underwent for so long. Although I was impressed with the spirit displayed by the protagonists in an abstract manner, I felt that I couldn’t completely appreciate the character graph since I couldn’t really get a grip on the horror that they had experienced. Frankly the stories made me uneasy, I stopped reading books in that genre and moved on to something else. Continue Reading »