Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Poetry Center Celebrates Maya Angelou: Star, Icon, Woman

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Poetry Center Celebrates Maya Angelou: Star, Icon, Woman

Article excerpt

For Michelle Obama, "she was the master."

"She" being poet Maya Angelou. "For at a time when there were such stifling constraints on how a black woman could exist in the world, she serenely disregarded all the rules with fiercely, passionate unapologetic self," the first lady said at Angelou's memorial service.

Angelou was remembered by people around the world after her death last May. This month, the St. Louis Poetry Center celebrates the fiercely unapologetic St. Louis native in its annual fundraiser.

"She was one of the first poets I came across when I was in middle school," says Jason Vasser, who is organizing the event April 26 at the Probstein clubhouse in Forest Park.

"We want to bring our community together around one of our St. Louis poets," Vasser says of the woman who has her own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Appetizers, drinks and live music will be part of the event. Included in this year's program are St. Louis poet laureate Michael Castro, poets Shirley Bradley LeFlore and Shane Seely, and members of the E.B. Redmond Writers Group. Dancer Dee Leatherberry will perform during a reading by a spoken word artist, Tasha Archie. Artwork and books will be auctioned. Ten percent of proceeds will go to Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority's scholarship fund.

Angelou "loved to fete & be feted, to be taken serious/ly in a light [hearted] way," a longtime friend, Eugene B. Redmond, said by email. "Hence, she'd have loved the celebration . . . poetry & her adopted sisters, the AKA's, she'd be wild about it."

As in past years, when the Poetry Center has celebrated legends such as W.B. Yeats, Emily Dickinson and Dylan Thomas, a number of people will read. Some of the readings may be original works inspired by Angelou.

Although Angelou published at least a dozen volumes of poetry, she was best-known for her first autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

The 1969 book spent two years on The New York Times best-seller list and has never gone out of print. …

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