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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Barrett Luttery

Honoring a Writing Legend - Maya Angelou

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

I love writing children’s stories, but I also like to read, especially fiction and inspiring biographies. I have eclectic tastes in genres including drama, romance, horror, and science fiction. My taste in authors is just as diverse. Some of the most memorable books that I have read were authored by Stephen King (Misery), Tananarive Due (The Between), Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins (The Left Behind series), Terry McMillan (Waiting to Exhale), Sister Souljah (The Coldest Winter Ever), Michelle Obama (Becoming), and Elie Wiesel (Night), but my favorite author of all time is Maya Angelou.

The first of Ms. Angelou’s autobiographies that I read was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which is probably her best-known work. I was struck by her ability to transport me as the reader into the world that she created. I believe that what makes her books so special is that much of what she wrote was based on her personal experiences. In my opinion, there is no better story than a real-life story. Some of her other books that I recommend include Singin’ and Swingin’ and Getting’ Merry Like Christmas, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, and The Heart of a Woman.

Not only was Ms. Angelou a prolific storyteller, but she was also an award-winning poet who published five complete collections. Still I Rise, and Phenomenal Woman are just two of the many memorable poems that she penned. In addition to her stellar writing skills, her spoken delivery was unique and sharp. Ms. Angelou recited On the Pulse of Morning at President William Clinton's 1993 inauguration and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2010. What greater honor is there than to be revered for your craft by not one, but two presidents.

Beyond reading her books, many of her quotes have been an inspiration in my life. One that has stuck with me is, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” This is a way of thinking and living that I apply to my own life.

Angelou led a rich and exciting existence full of many experiences as a civil rights activist, theatre and movie actress, singer, and playwright. She also wrote several children's books including Life Doesn’t Frighten Me; Kofi and His Magic; My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me. Her career as a writer of works in various genres is an inspiration to any writer to not limit themselves to one unless they want to. Writers should write what is in their hearts and share it with the world.

As an author, I understand that in order to write well, I must read, and read a lot to improve my craft. Reading the works of this great woman and others makes me want to be a better writer and perhaps my work will impact the creativity of others who embark on the same journey.

Until next time, happy reading and writing!

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