In a 1986 interview with NPR’s Terri Gross, Maya Angelou gives the background to the texture of her poetry:
I find in my poetry and prose the rhythms and imagery of the best — when I’m at my best — of the good Southern black preachers. The lyricism of the spirituals and the directness of gospel songs and the mystery of blues are in my music, are in my poetry and prose…
I thought of myself as a giant ear which could just absorb all sound, and I would go into a room and just eat up the sound. I memorized so many poets. I just had sheets of poetry; still do. I would listen to the accents, and I still love the way human beings sound. There is no human voice which is unbeautiful to me.
I didn’t follow Angelou that closely. But several years ago, I listened to a meetup between her and Dave Chapelle on the Sundance Iconoclasts series. The timbre, tone, and rhythm of her voice was hypnotic. Now, every time I hear it, I have to stop and listen.
Voices do tell stories…
1928 – 2014
photo via Santa Barbara Independent