With ‘At Times Like This,’ poet Nikki Giovanni remembers Maya Angelou

The following poem was written by Nikki Giovanni. It originally appeared on Slate, under the title “At Times Like This.” Nikki Giovanni is a world-renown poet, writer, commentator, educator and activist. She is a distinguished professor at Virginia Tech. 

By: Nikki Giovanni

(for Maya Angelou)

At times like this
We measure our words
Because we are
Measuring a life

Event: Remembering Maya Angelou

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On Wednesday May 28, the world lost an icon. Dr. Maya Angelou passed away peacefully in her sleep, and while millions continue to grieve her loss, some members of a spoken word collective are choosing to honor her memory.

She Will Rise Forever

A moment of silence for our elder Maya Angelou as she transitions into the cosmos and protects us as our ancestor….

I was first introduced to Maya Angelou in college (my high school cared nothing for multiculturalism and an inclusive education) when I took an African American poetry course.  I loved this class so much, I took the entire three part sequence. 

Maya Angelou to be awarded Mailer Lifetime Achievement Award

World-renowned author, poet and actress Dr. Maya Angelou will be awarded the Norman Mailer Center & Writers Colony’s lifetime achievement award.

Angelou received the National Book Foundation’s 2013 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community earlier this month.

The award was the creative’s first major prize. 

A Father’s Day Reflection: Do Black Fathers Matter?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A2Ap3DyvLg

For the past 15 years of my life, Father’s Day was a day to be tolerated if not ignored. Unlike Mother’s Day where I actually thirst for the presence of my mother or someone else’s mother, I feel completely indifferent about Father’s Day. And, perhaps, my indifference has much to do with the fact that every day when I look in the mirror I see the face of my father, a man who spent most of my childhood beating my mother senseless and every other poor unfortunate female soul who fell for his southern charm and hetero-masculine insecurities.

As the adage goes, “I am my father’s daughter” if not by biology, definitely by resemblance. So, there is not a day that goes by that I do not see my father’s face and remember the screams, the blackened eyes, the police beating at the door, scraped knees from trying to protect momma, the empty Seagram’s gin bottles, and the many sleepless nights of endless cries for sanctuary of some kind. So, the presence of my father is always near because I see his reflection in the mirror prompting me from time to time to think about what it would mean for me to forgive my dad and also what would it mean for my father to have my forgiveness.

It would mean I would have to stop labeling him as the sole culprit for my mother’s bad choices and life struggles. It would mean I would have to stop hating him for not being there to growl at my prom date or not being there to make a big fuss about the shortness of my mini skirt. It would mean I would have to see him as a man who made many mistakes because he too was blindly running from childhood trauma and violence. And I would have to believe that just because you have a child, does not mean you know how to parent the child and that biology is a cruel prankster fooling people into believing that they instinctively know how to raise children. Let me just say this, it is not instinctual for mothers and it is definitely not instinctual for fathers.