Thursday, March 05, 2009

I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight

Yeah, that post title has nothing to do with anything except that the song is stuck in my head a little. (It's from the new U2 album.)

* * * * *

Maya Angelou spoke on campus this evening, to a sold-out (well, tickets were free, but they were all distributed) auditorium. This auditorium seats around 3200 people, and it was a mix of students, faculty, and other folks. Anyway, I know a lot of poets don't think much of Angelou's poetry, and I can understand that; she's not a challenging or technically nuanced poet, certainly. But what she does better than just about anyone is to capture an audience. Talk about stage presence... wow. And to think of her history in the civil rights movement, and her life story -- well, she's a pretty amazing person, really. But what I loved tonight was her passion about poetry, the way she talked about (and sometimes read from) Shakespeare, Poe, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Mari Evans, Countee Cullen, and others -- talking to that packed room about how poetry is important and, I think, persuading people to believe it. You gotta love that. And not only that, but she talked about librarians, and how librarians study as hard as surgeons, and how you should go to the library and ask the librarian to help you finding some information -- "but don't expect an answer right away. It's probably been a while since anyone asked and it might take her a couple of minutes to recover from the shock." (Not an exact quote, but something like that, which just about made me pee my pants laughing.)

Promoting poetry and librarians to an auditorium full of impressionable college students, and getting a roaring standing ovation anyway. Yeah, you gotta love that!

* * * * *

Things aren't looking good in California, apparently. The whole thing makes me feel a little queasy, and I don't even really have a personal horse in this race, being neither the marrying kind nor a California resident. Still, what's fair is fair, and it's just dumb for some relationships to be all official and stuff and others not to be. Just dumb, and mean.

I do believe that the world can change. Just sometimes, I wish it would hurry faster.


Collin Kelley said...

I'm with you on your thoughts about Angelou.

Have you been watching U2 on Letterman this week? Amazing performances.

Anne said...

I sure have been watching. I've fallen asleep before they came on a couple of times, but I've been DVR'ing the show so I won't miss them. I downloaded the new album (only $3.99 at, which is quite a deal) and some of the songs are growing on me, although as a whole I don't think it will be one of my favorite U2 albums. It has some really interesting textures though, and the Edge is incredible on it. (I have a love-hate thing with Bono, but I LOVE me some Edge.)

Anonymous said...

the angelou reading sounds fantastic - wish I could have been there!!!

Lyle Daggett said...

Anne, curious if you might be aquainted with a poet and artist in Bloomington (Indiana, that is) named Ellen Kennedy Michel? I'd thought to ask you this whenever our paths might cross at AWP, though of course spaced out on it the times we ran into each other there.

In her blog elenabella, she also briefly mentioned having been at the Maya Angelou reading. Ellen and I knew each other slightly, many years ago when she lived in Minneapolis.

Ellen's father, Wally Kennedy, was one of my early poetry teachers (in a somewhat non-traditional program during my last year of high school).

The link above is to the main page of her blog; I tried linking to the specific blogpage, but the blog entry wasn't coming up on it, she may have hers set up differently. The blog entry where she mentions the Angelou reading is dated March 6, 2009.

Anne said...

PWADJ: Wish you could have been there, too!

Lyle: Nope, never heard of her... Bloomington is very smalltown sometimes, but it's actually bigger than people realize. :)