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Snippet of Maya Angelou Interview

From Audio: Maya Angelou
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Now I've Heard Everything
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Last Played: October 26, 2021
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In this interview, Maya Angelou discusses her love for words, the human voice, the importance of being present, and so much more.
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few poets ever reached the level of prominence enjoyed by Maya Angelo. But of course, she was much more than a poet. She was author, essayist, memoirist and civil rights activist and not a bad singer. As you'll hear in a few minutes during her lifetime, she worked with both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and in 1993 Angela recited her poem on the pulse of Morning at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton. I met her just a few months later. So here now, from October 1993. Maya Angelo I never tried to be up to so obscure a difficulty. I try for the opposite. I tried to be clear and plain, Um, not so plain is to be boring, but I mean accessible. Um, I think of try to look at lessons. I either have learned our lessons, which at least have been offered to me, and I didn't learn them but seemed to be valid. The exercises I found your book almost like where those old advertisements for Lay's potato chips you can't eat just one I found. You can't read just one. You have to go on to the next and I've got several favorites. I love the complaining e. I love living well. Livingood o r e I say it right, but they're just these these little nuggets and their deceptively short. You look at this and say, What can she say In two or three pages, you say Thank you, Thank you very much. It's very, um, challenging to say what one wants to say In a few pages, I remember hearing a joke, a story that a writer wrote to his editor and said, Here's that piece you wanted from me. It's 20 pages, but if you've given me more time, I could have made it 10. That's exactly right. You do choose your words. Very careful. Yes, yes, because to a poet words, one word has to carry on enormous amount of meeting. That's right. And to a prose writer, too. I think I'm careful because I believe words or things. I believe that in another 100 years, unless we will be able to measure the impact of words on things as now, photographers air able to photograph people and the aura which surrounds them, then I think that in time words, their meaning and they're implicate their meaning and their impact will be measurable. So one has to be very, very careful in the choosing of words. When did you know that words were that important to you? When did you know the words might be your life? Well, from the time I was 7.5 until I was almost 13, I was a mute, and I listen, I listened very carefully. I used to think of my whole body that I could make my whole body and ear, and I could walk into a room and absorb sound. Almost breathe it in just right through my pores. Um, I loved words. I still do. And I love the human voice. I've never heard a human voice I dislike. I've heard a lot of things the human voice said which have been hurting and cutting and painful. But anyway, we sound I like it. That really is the secret, is it not to to enjoy what you've got Go with the flow or whatever way you want to put it. See life as an adventure? Yes. Exactly. And to be present, You see, I think that we cut short our enjoyment and a possibility, uh, of having a, um, positive effect own life when we are not totally present. If I was partly present at my next interview, that would I would cut short my effectiveness with you and my ability to enjoy talking and trying to explain myself to you. Now, when I leave this place, I will be totally present at the next place. But I think that is one mistake we make. And it's a sad mistake because everything is diminished by living halfway in the next day. You've just hit on the reason why I no longer come to interviews with clipboards full of questions, because you could get so lost in this abyss of questions that you're bound and determined. That person's gonna answer that you lose track. You lose all the enjoyment of of the give and take of Congress. That's right, and that's it. That is such a true phrase. Conversation can only be achieved with give and take with attention to the Converse er ah, converse sent. And to be able to have the time to reach in one's mind and choose the word because you see Bill Times, it's impossible to translate oneself. Actually, impacts. That is to say, I have never been able to say exactly what I mean. It's like trying to describe Green to a person who is color line are our melody to a person who has difficulty hearing, Um so each time one human being speaks to another human being, we need neither of us Is that ever able to say exactly what we mean? But you can come pretty close. Well, you can come. Can it close? How did you decide what was to go in the book and what you had to leave out? I thought of some of the large broad slash is of color. Uh, of of modes of living have big human ideas like love, jealousy, um, despair, death, laughter, self esteem, all those things. And I wondered how I had dealt with the question. Met those great ideas. Arise, Rise. So I started writing on on the subject, and quite often, the the essay would be eight or 10 pages. And then I would start to pull it down, clean it up and make it not terrorists, but the tight and exactly exactly. Because you had time to take it from 20 pages down, Thio. You may be too modest to call this wisdom, but this is wisdom. This is the wisdom of your years of your experience of your perceptions. Well, yes, it is certainly my deductions, you know, and I have no modesty on none. Modesty is a learned affectation, and it's not very attractive. But I hope I have is humility. Humility comes from within out. Modesty is external, you see, So I don't waste no time in modesty that I know that some some of the the results which I have come up with seemed to hold water seemed to be valid. However, everything is in process. And I pray that I have enough courage to be able to say if convinced by a small child that the position I held was untenable. I'd love to be able to say to everybody Hey, everybody, you remember what I said yesterday? Well, I don't believe that any more. I hope so. I want to be. I want to love the search for truth. But I don't want to love a position because it is the woman's prerogative to change on a man. Thio you that opening essay What? You you talk about the thing. Early identification with women as storms or as ships or as Lydia look and the woman And how many of us men and women have done exactly what you did is and for fear of being ridiculed for changing our mind. We stuck with position regardless of our stupid. It might have been dangerous. Exactly, because that we have the pride. Not only women but men Do we have the pride that we don't wanna be? We don't wanna look flighty. We don't wanna look indecisive. That's right. This business world, you make a decision, you better stick with it. That's right. Don't be privileged just because you've been found to be stupid. Don't change your mind. It's too sad. Are we to take your title literally Wouldn't take nothing for your journey. No, I wouldn't take. I mean, there is nothing that would would, uh, make me exchange what I have done. And then the the narrow tunnels I've been able to come through them the the deep waters I have forge donned with the help of God and a lot of other friends. Um, that's a wonderful song. That it's It's 1/19 century song which says I'm on the journey now Mount Zion My journey now Mount Zion And I wouldn't take nothing Mount Zion for my journey now, mouths, I'm so pretty and so, so beautiful. Um, everything costs, Is he? I mean, it costs two in it costs to lose. So if I have paid with attention some courage, some laughter, some love to have arrived here at this place. What would I take for it? There is nothing. I don't want to go back. Surely I want to relive anything. Anything? Certainly. Of course not. The painful things and bad things and difficulty. But I don't want to relive the good things. Not the inaugural poll. No, no, I did my best with that. I did my very best in writing it and in delivering it. And that is a fate a complete that has happened. There is nothing I would give. Ah, not anything I would take for being right here this very minute. It takes a great deal of courage to say something like that, doesn't it? I don't know. I think maybe if you live long enough, it doesn't take any Kurds. You know,
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