Highly acclaimed and much-loved American poet, Maya Angelou, passed away on Wednesday 28th May, aged 86, at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Perhaps best known for her 1969 book I know why the caged bird sings, Angelou wrote seven autobiographical books and was a prominent civil rights activist working with both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
She won many awards and her books have been read by thousands, if not millions, of school children around the world.
Caged Bird, which tells the story of Angelou’s childhood to the age of seventeen, is widely considered the first book by an African American female author to so candidly describe life and is credited with creating a completely new genre of memoir.
Internationally acclaimed poet and author T.J Dema posted Angelou’s picture on her Facebook Page on Wednesday to mourn her passing and celebrate her life.
TJ also had this to say about her literary icon: Her work was accessible and this has always been important to me.
The old masters can be quite intimidating to a new reader, to an emerging poet and classrooms sometimes reinforce this idea of poetry as something inherently convoluted and perhaps belonging to no one that looks like you or me.
Her words however have always stood with the people who wished to hear them rather than apart. I think this speaks to Dr Maya Angelou’s spirit as an educator, that she was always saying “come” not just “behold”.
T.J Dema’s friends who commented on her post were as follows:
Batsirai E Chigama: Salute
Juby Peacock: Wow! She was such a powerful woman
John Stewart: Salute and celebrate as we mourn
Dimpho Kabo: May her soul rest in peace
Don Ronza: RIP Maya!