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Nikki Giovanni Remembers Maya Angelou

OPB | May 28, 2014 12:15 p.m. | Updated: May 29, 2014 9:45 a.m.

Poet and political activist Maya Angelou died earlier this morning after a long illness at her home in Winston Salem, N.C. She was 86. You can read more about how Oregonians are remembering Angelou on the OPB News Blog.

Poet, author and professor Nikki Giovanni was a close friend of Angelou’s.

“I don’t know anybody, and I really don’t, who has gotten as much out of life as Maya Angelou,” Giovanni told NPR’s Michel Martin.

Angelou never spoke much of her childhood, but in 1969 shared some of her past in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first of a series of memoirs.

“I think [Angelou] had a difficult childhood at the beginning and I think that the silence allowed her to absorb good stories,” noted Giovanni.

When Martin mentioned Angelou’s generosity, Giovanni said, “She always reminded herself … that joy is important so she wanted to receive it and the best way to receive it is to give it.”

“The one thing that I know Maya … would want is to know what’s being said now about her in her death … She would get the biggest kick,” added Giovanni.

In February, OPB’s Ifanyi Bell interviewed Angelou’s friend Nikki Giovanni who shared her poem “My Dream for Maya.”

Nikki Giovanni appeared on Think Out Loud in February 2014. Listen to the interview.

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