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My sister left a message for me yesterday afternoon, saying how sorry she was that Maya Angelou had died and how she was thinking of me. Then several other friends sent similar messages.

Although I was lucky enough to meet Maya Angelou once a very long time ago at The Algonquin Hotel in New York, it was a moment in time, a mishap that ended in great kindness – and what I remember most is the sound of her beautiful laughter. I didn’t know her; she wasn’t my friend – and yet she was. She was important to me.

There are certain people, certain writers and songwriters who speak to us, whose words resonate and give us comfort and strength at particular points in our lives, people who, through their poetry, fiction, songs, make us feel less alone. Maya Angelou was one of the most significant for me. Her poetry, along with the great Alice Walker’s, spoke to me and, for the first time, made me realise it was OK for me to be me.

RiP Maya Angelou. And thank you.

 

Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

 

Maya Angelou, author, poet, broadcaster, actor, singer and so much more (4 April 1928–28 May 2014)

 

See also: ‘We should all be feminists, #IWD2018‘; ‘The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘Meeting Ms Angelou – Maya Angelou in pictures‘, The Literary Shed@Pinterest