Wednesday, May 28, 2014

That Caged Bird Isn't Singing Tonight



Her words were timeless, and her lines never got old. I guess I thought she would last forever. But alas, Maya Angelou is gone now, and the world has a bit of a hole left no one else can quite fill.  

I met Maya Angelou on the pages of her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings when I was quite young. I was fascinated by her writing and became a fan. By the time I was teaching I had read everything she had written and continued to follow her. All of our literature textbooks had something by Miss Maya. I did not let my students read a poem and then move on. I made them not just meet but know this woman. In days when others were dropping spelling tests from lesson plans, I still pushed for spelling and vocabulary. When we read Maya Angelou I made her name a spelling word because I wanted them to pronounce the name correctly and to spell it right. They would never forget her.

Several years ago, I was in a silent auction where the only thing I wanted was a signed poem by this author. Another lady had WAY too much money as she drove the price completely beyond of my means! I was distraught for sure. So I set down and told Miss Angelou how sad I was to miss the opportunity to have her signed work and explained how she was studied not merely read in my classroom.

In only a matter of weeks I got a letter and a package in the mail. Inside were TWO signed poems. I nearly fainted. But how nice of her to give me enough that I could share, as I framed the extra for a close friend who loved Maya Angelou’s work too.

Tonight we feel sorrow for our loss, but soon we will realize the voice we loved will always sing to us in the words she left behind. We will feel her music and sway to her dance with each poem we read aloud. Heaven has a new poet, but she left behind many great words and works  to keep us company while she is gone. Good bye, Miss Maya!

13 comments:

Terra said...

That is a sweet personal connection you have with Maya Angelou; I have loved her writing and her zest for life for many years too. I mention her in my blog post today.

Sioux said...

And it was a copy of "Still I Rise." Presidential inaugurations have not been the same (and never as good) since SHE read that poem.

It is a great loss...

Elephant's Child said...

The world is diminished with her passing, but richer because she was here.
And your lovely story only re-inforces my feelings about her. Thank you - and her.

BECKY said...

What a beautiful story, Claudia! There ARE some people in this world who are genuine.....and I've just read about TWO of them. You and Maya!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

What a lovely story, Claudia. You said you thought she would last forever. She will, in her many beautiful words.

Donna Volkenannt said...

What a lovely tribute, Claudia, and what a generous act by such a talented woman. She will be missed and remembered by many.

ncalkins said...

What a special memory and a wonderful tribute to a beautiful woman.

Patricia A. Laster said...

What a great story! And what a great thing you did for your students. They won't be among those who ask, "Who's that?" when someone mentioned her death. xoxo

Linda O'Connell said...

I am touched by her words and YOURS.

Rebecca said...

Oh, my! How wonderful to have such a treasure! Mostly I'm impressed that it represents her HEART! She was the "real thing"!

rebecca said...

I meant to tell you, I picked up "Wish You Were Here" (Steward O'Nan). After reading Amazon re. "Emily, Alone", I decided to read this one first. Have you read it?

Lynn said...

Nice post - and what a woman!

Marylin Warner said...

This is a heartfelt and truly beautiful tribute, Claudia. In the classroom, Maya Angelou was not a writer who reached the minds and hearts of females; her messages crossed gender, racial and social lines and changed the world, one caged thought at a time.

You have a wonderful gift from her! How cool is it to have TWO signed poems by this tremendous lady! Your letter to her must have struck a chord! Your final paragraph is a lovely and powerful farewell.