Monday, March 2, 2009

Letter to My Daughter

Maya Angelou must be one of the best poets still alive today. She carries incredible wisdom that we need to listen to. She has known some phenomenal people, went through some intense times, endured a hard life, but she has gained so much knowledge. We need to take advantage of her brilliance before we cannot anymore.

Angelou just put out a fabulous book called Letter to My Daughter. This book is a series of essays giving life lessons she has learned to the daughter she never had (she had one male child). Her essays reveal true stories from her life that taught her great lessons that we all need to hear about.

The cover of the book is exactly as colorful as her lessons, stories, and narration is in the book. It is extremely enjoyable.

The following are chapters from the book, each an essay that gives us a life lesson (or lessons) she has learned with stories to accompany her advice and wisdom:

HOME: Angelou on what home is.

"I am convinced that most people do not grow up."

"We may act sophisticated and worldly, but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do."

PHILANTHROPY: Angelou's love and work for helping mankind.

"The word philanthropy was taken from the two Greek words, philo--lover of; and anthro--mankind. So, philanthropists are lovers of humanity."

REVELATIONS: Angelou learns of her bodily changes, has a beautiful boy, and feels thankful that he is hers.

GIVING BIRTH: Self-explanatory. The way Angelou's mother handled the pregnancy helped her gain confidence and pride in herself since she did not get angry or upset.

ACCIDENT, COINCIDENT, OR ANSWERED PRAYER: Angelou dates a man who ends up being a little off in the head. He kidnaps her and almost kills her until she is saved.

TO TELL THE TRUTH: Answering "How are you?" If you do it truthfully, people might stop asking. But shouldn't we be truthful?

"I believe in that we learn to give and receive social lies."

VULGARITY: Vulgarity is not an attractive quality.

VIOLENCE: Violence is over power and control. Angelou discusses rape (being a victim herself) and the violence associated with that.

MOTHER'S LONG VIEW: Angelou's first taste of independence in her youth.

"Imagine, I might really become somebody. Someday."

"Independence is a heady draft, and if you drink it in your youth it can have the same effect on the brain as young wine. It does not matter that its taste is not appealing, it is addictive and with each drink the consumer wants more."

MOROCCO: Follow the rules that you have been taught, as never to offend anyone around you. Angelou drank a cup of water (even though it had a nasty bug in it) because it would have been rude to take it out at her dinner party.

PORGY AND BESS: Angelou feels so depressed, and then a good friend offers her advice that she isn't crazy: she's actually pretty lucky.

"First write down that I said write down and think of the millions of people all over the world who cannot hear a choir, or a symphony, or their own babies crying. Write down, I can hear--Thank God. Then write down that you can see this yellow pad, and think of the millions of people around the world who cannot see a waterfall, or flowers blooming, or their lover's face. Write I can see--Thank God. Then write down that you can read. Think of the millions of people around the world who cannot read the news of the day, or a letter from home, a stop sign on a busy street, or..."

BOB & DECCA: "A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face."

CELIA CRUZ: Angelou's influence to performance and being a fan.

"All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are more alike than unalike."

FANNIE LOU HAMER: Belonging to the country, especially as an African American.

SENEGAL: "In an unfamiliar culture, it is wise to offer no innovations, no suggestions, or lessons."

"The epitome of sophistication is utter simplicity."

THE ETERNAL SILVER SCREEN: Don't forget where you came from.

IN SELF-DEFENSE: When others attack us.

MRS. CORETTA SCOTT KING: On deceased friends of hers, like King, Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Baldwin.

CONDOLENCES: A short passage to those who are grieving.

IN THE VALLEY OF HUMILITY: Visiting Wake Forest University.

NATIONAL SPIRIT: "For the past four decades our national spirit and natural joy have ebbed. Our national expectations have dimninished." Our hope for the future is shortening too.

RECLAIMING SOUTHERN ROOTS: Reclaim your roots. Don't forget them.

SURVIVING: A poem on surviving.

SALUTE TO OLDER LOVERS: A poem: It's never to late to find true love.


POETRY: On African American poetry.

MT. ZION: A short religious essay.

KEEP THE FAITH: No matter what happens, always keep your faith.

The book is short and easy to read. I definitely recommend picking up this book, or any of her other books. She is a blessing and a joy. Read Maya Angelou.

Read an excerpt from the book ("To Tell the Truth") on Oprah's website by going to this website.

You can also watch her talk about the book in a video where she discusses losing her virginity, getting pregnant young, the definition of home. Watch video of her interview with MSNBC here.

What do you think of Letter to My Daughter?

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