Information helps you to see that you're not alone. That there's somebody in Mississippi and somebody in Tokyo who all have wept, who've all longed and lost, who've all been happy. So the library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you're not really any different from everyone else.
You have to develop ways so that you can take up for yourself, and then you take up for someone else. And so sooner or later, you have enough courage to really stand up for the human race and say, 'I'm a representative.'
I liked to write from the time I was about 12 or 13. I loved to read. And since I only spoke to my brother, I would write down my thoughts. And I think I wrote some of the worst poetry west of the Rockies. But by the time I was in my 20s, I found myself writing little essays and more poetry - writing at writing.
I know some people might think it odd - unworthy even - for me to have written a cookbook, but I make no apologies. The U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins thought I had demeaned myself by writing poetry for Hallmark Cards, but I am the people's poet so I write for the people.
The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerance. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors, and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.
Fighting for one's freedom, struggling towards being free, is like struggling to be a poet or a good Christian or a good Jew or a good Muslim or good Zen Buddhist. You work all day long and achieve some kind of level of success by nightfall, go to sleep and wake up the next morning with the job still to be done. So you start all over again.
I keep a hotel room in my town, although I have a large house. And I go there at about 5:30 in the morning, and I start working. And I don't allow anybody to come in that room. I work on yellow pads and with ballpoint pens. I keep a Bible, a thesaurus, a dictionary, and a bottle of sherry. I stay there until midday.
When I cook for my family on Christmas, I make feijoada, a South American dish of roasted and smoked meats like ham, pork, beef, lamb, and bacon - all served with black beans and rice. It's festive but different.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.
I never expected anyone to take care of me, but in my wildest dreams and juvenile yearnings, I wanted the house with the picket fence from June Allyson movies. I knew that was yearning like one yearns to fly.
What is a fear of living? It's being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself - for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don't know what you're here to do, then just do some good.
I always knew from that moment, from the time I found myself at home in that little segregated library in the South, all the way up until I walked up the steps of the New York City library, I always felt, in any town, if I can get to a library, I'll be OK. It really helped me as a child, and that never left me.
Whenever something went wrong when I was young - if I had a pimple or if my hair broke - my mom would say, 'Sister mine, I'm going to make you some soup.' And I really thought the soup would make my pimple go away or my hair stronger.
Growing up, my grandmother did not want worldly music in the house. Then when I went out to California, I started listening to Spanish music, mostly Mexican music. But were I in Egypt, I would listen to the music of the people, or if I was in Italy, I'd listen to Italian music.
Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin - find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.
One of my lungs is half gone, and the other half, because I smoked for years, has a lesion. So I can't swim anymore and had the swimming pool covered over. Now it's what I call the dance pavilion, and so I and my friends sit out and put music on and watch people dance.
I find in my poetry and prose the rhythms and imagery of the best - I mean, 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 or in my poetry and prose, or I missed everything.
I have great respect for the past. If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going. I have respect for the past, but I'm a person of the moment. I'm here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I'm at, then I go forward to the next place.
I think Clinton, after getting into office and into Washington, was shocked at being bludgeoned. So he spent time trying to be all things to all people - one way guaranteed not to be successful or respected in a lion's den. You can't just play around with all those big cats - you've got to take somebody on.
I love wisdom. And you can never be great at anything unless you love it. Not be in love with it, but love the thing, admire the thing. And it seems that if you love the thing, and you don't just want to possess it, it will find you.
On Saturday afternoons when all the things are done in the house and there's no real work to be done, I play Bach and Chopin and turn it up real loudly and get a good bottle of chardonnay and sit out on my deck and look out at the garden.
My grandmother took me to church on Sunday all day long, every Sunday into the night. Then Monday evening was the missionary meeting. Tuesday evening was usher board meeting. Wednesday evening was prayer meeting. Thursday evening was visit the sick. Friday evening was choir practice. I mean, and at all those gatherings, we sang.
Most people don't grow up. It's too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That's the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don't grow up.
I love the melodies in the Old Testament, how preachers highlight them when they read from the Scripture. But I was influenced forever by the New Testament. I love the Beatitudes, informing us that the meek shall inherit the earth.
I've still not written as well as I want to. I want to write so that the reader in Des Moines, Iowa, in Kowloon, China, in Cape Town, South Africa, can say, 'You know, that's the truth. I wasn't there, and I wasn't a six-foot black girl, but that's the truth.'
I'm just like you - I want to be a good human being. I'm doing my best, and I'm working at it. And I'm trying to be a Christian. I'm always amazed when people walk up to me and say, 'I'm a Christian.' I always think, 'Already? You've already got it?' I'm working at it. And at my age, I'll still be working at it at 96.
It's good to remember that in crises, natural crises, human beings forget for awhile their ignorances, their biases, their prejudices. For a little while, neighbors help neighbors and strangers help strangers.
The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God - if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That's what I think.
Independence is a heady draught, and if you drink it in your youth, it can have the same effect on the brain as young wine does. It does not matter that its taste is not always appealing. It is addictive and with each drink you want more.
I would be a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool - and I'm not any of those - to say that I don't write for the reader. I do. But for the reader who hears, who really will work at it, going behind what I seem to say. So I write for myself and that reader who will pay the dues.
Whenever I want to laugh, I read a wonderful book, 'Children's Letters to God.' You can open it anywhere. One I read recently said, 'Dear God, thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.'
During bad circumstances, which is the human inheritance, you must decide not to be reduced. You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that. We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not.
The first decade of the twentieth century was not a great time to be born black and poor and female in St. Louis, Missouri, but Vivian Baxter was born black and poor, to black and poor parents. Later she would grow up and be called beautiful. As a grown woman she would be known as the butter-colored lady with the blowback hair.
Like a pianist runs her fingers over the keys, I'll search my mind for what to say. Now, the poem may want you to write it. And then sometimes you see a situation and think, 'I'd like to write about that.' Those are two different ways of being approached by a poem, or approaching a poem.
I never had that feeling that I had to carry the weight of somebody's ignorance around with me. And that was true for racists who wanted to use the 'n' word when talking about me or about my people, or the stupidity of people who really wanted to belittle other folks because they weren't pretty or they weren't rich or they weren't clever.
Of course, there are those critics - New York critics as a rule - who say, 'Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it's good but then she's a natural writer.' Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.
Autobiography is awfully seductive; it's wonderful. Once I got into it, I realized I was following a tradition established by Frederick Douglass - the slave narrative - speaking in the first-person singular, talking about the first-person plural, always saying 'I,' meaning 'we.'
A black person grows up in this country - and in many places - knowing that racism will be as familiar as salt to the tongue. Also, it can be as dangerous as too much salt. I think that you must struggle for betterment for yourself and for everyone.
It's still scary every time I go back to the past. Each morning, my heart catches. When I get there, I remember how the light was, where the draft was coming from, what odors were in the air. When I write, I get all the weeping out.
Black people comprehend the South. We understand its weight. It has rested on our backs... I knew that my heart would break if ever I put my foot down on that soil, moist, still, with old hurts. I had to face the fear/loathing at its source or it would consume me whole.
I will not sit in a room with black people when the N word is used. I know it was meant to belittle a person, so I will not sit there and have that poison put on me. Now a black person can say, 'Oh, you know, I can use this word because I'm black.'
If you were the President of the United States or the Queen of England - you couldn't have a person who would be more protective than my mother was for me. Which meant really that I could dare to do all sorts of things.
Easy reading is damn hard writing. But if it's right, it's easy. It's the other way round, too. If it's slovenly written, then it's hard to read. It doesn't give the reader what the careful writer can give the reader.
If we don't plant the right things, we will reap the wrong things. It goes without saying. And you don't have to be, you know, a brilliant biochemist and you don't have to have an IQ of 150. Just common sense tells you to be kind, ninny, fool. Be kind.
For a person who grew up in the '30s and '40s in the segregated South, with so many doors closed without explanation to me, libraries and books said, 'Here I am, read me.' Over time I have learned I am at my best around books.
We write for the same reason that we walk, talk, climb mountains or swim the oceans - because we can. We have some impulse within us that makes us want to explain ourselves to other human beings. That's why we paint, that's why we dare to love someone - because we have the impulse to explain who we are.
Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.
Timidity makes a person modest. It makes him or her say, 'I'm not worthy of being written up in the record of deeds in heaven or on earth.' Timidity keeps people from their good. They are afraid to say, 'Yes, I deserve it.'
I believe we are still so innocent. The species are still so innocent that a person who is apt to be murdered believes that the murderer, just before he puts the final wrench on his throat, will have enough compassion to give him one sweet cup of water.
All of us knows, not what is expedient, not what is going to make us popular, not what the policy is, or the company policy - but in truth each of us knows what is the right thing to do. And that's how I am guided.
I've always written. There's a journal which I kept from about 9 years old. The man who gave it to me lived across the street from the store and kept it when my grandmother's papers were destroyed. I'd written some essays. I loved poetry, still do. But I really, really loved it then.
For Africa to me... is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.
The language of all the interpretations, the translations, of the Judaic Bible and the Christian Bible, is musical, just wonderful. I read the Bible to myself; I'll take any translation, any edition, and read it aloud, just to hear the language, hear the rhythm, and remind myself how beautiful English is.
When younger writers and poets, musicians and painters are weakened by a stemming of funds, they come to me saddened, not as full of dreams and excitement and ideas. I am then weakened and diminished, and made less rich.
I'm working at trying to be a Christian, and that's serious business. It's like trying to be a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Buddhist, a good Shintoist, a good Zoroastrian, a good friend, a good lover, a good mother, a good buddy - it's serious business.
When I was 8 years old I became a mute and was a mute until I was 13, and I thought of my whole body as an ear, so I can go into a crowd and sit still and absorb all sound. That talent or ability has lasted and served me until today.
I'm very, very serious - I'm serious enough not to take myself too seriously. That means I can be completely wedded to the moment. But when I leave that moment, I want to be completely wedded to the next moment.
Soft you day, be velvet soft, My true love approaches, Look you bright, you dusty sun, Array your golden coaches.Soft you wind, be soft as silk My true love is speaking. Hold you birds, your silver throats, His golden voice I'm seeking.Come you death, in haste, do come My shroud of black be weaving, Quiet my heart, be deathly quiet, My true love is leaving."
You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it."
Oh, Black known and unknown poets, how often have your auctioned pains sustained us? Who will compute the lonely nights made less lonely by your songs, or by the empty pots made less tragic by your tales?If we were a people much given to revealing secrets, we might raise monuments and sacrifice to the memories of our poets, but slavery cured us of that weakness."
The writer has to take the most used, most familiar objects - nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs - ball them together and make them bounce, turn them a certain way and make people get into a romantic mood; and another way, into a bellicose mood. I'm most happy to be a writer.
I find it interesting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God's will, but as human beings become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of responsibility at commensurate speed.
There's racism and sexism and ageism and all sorts of idiocies. But bad news is not news. We've had bad news as a species for a long time. We've had slavery and human sacrifice and the holocaust and brutalities of such measure.
Home is that youthful region where a child is the only real living inhabitant. Parents, siblings, and neighbors are mysterious apparitions who come, go, and do strange unfathomable thing in and around the child, the region's only enfranchised citizen.
Blacks concede that hurrawing, jibing, jiving, signifying, disrespecting, cursing, even outright insults might be acceptable under particular conditions, but aspersions cast against one's family call for immediate attack.
The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.
I agree with Balzac and 19th-century writers, black and white, who say, 'I write for money.' Yes, I think everybody should be paid handsomely; I insist on it, and I pay people who work for me, or with me, handsomely.
The most important thing I can tell you about aging is this: If you really feel that you want to have an off-the-shoulder blouse and some big beads and thong sandals and a dirndl skirt and a magnolia in your hair, do it. Even if you're wrinkled.
Without willing it, I had gone from being ignorant of being ignorant to being aware of being aware. And the worst part of my awareness was that I didn't know what I was aware of. I knew I knew very little, but I was certain that the things I had yet to learn wouldn't be taught to me at George Washington High School.
I'm not sure if resilience is ever achieved alone. Experience allows us to learn from example. But if we have someone who loves us-I don't mean who indulges us, but who loves us enough to be on our side-then it's easier to grow resilience, to grow belief in self, to grow self-esteem. And it's self-esteem that allows a person to stand up.
Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. We need hours of aimless wandering or spates of time sitting on park benches, observing the mysterious world of ants and the canopy of treetops.
That knowledge humbles me, melts my bones, closes my ears, and makes my teeth rock loosely in their gums. And it also liberates me. I am a big bird winging over high mountains, down into serene valleys. I am ripples of waves on silver seas. I'm a spring leaf trembling in anticipation.
A bizarre sensation pervades a relationship of pretense. No truth seems true. A simple morning's greeting and response appear loaded with innuendo and fraught with implications. Each nicety becomes more sterile and each withdrawal more permanent.
The black kids, the poor white kids, Spanish-speaking kids, and Asian kids in the US - in the face of everything to the contrary, they still bop and bump, shout and go to school somehow. Their optimism gives me hope.
I, with millions of other Americans, have the same dream Martin Luther King Jr. had; when I wake up I wish some of the things I dreamt would be true. I wish that little black and white boys and girls would hold hands without being shocked at their nearness to each other and say in a natural way, "we have overcome.
Sisterhood means if you happen to be in Burma and I happen to be in San Diego and I'm married to someone who is very jealous and you're married to somebody who is very possessive, if you call me in the middle of the night, I have to come.
I believed that there was a God because I was told it by my grandmother and later by other adults. But when I found that I knew not only that there was God but that I was a child of God, when I understood that, when I comprehended that, more than that, when I internalized that, ingested that, I became courageous.
Love is a condition so powerful; it may be that which pulls the stars in the firmament. It may be that which pushes and urges the blood in the veins. Courage: you have to have courage to love somebody because you risk everything-ever ything.
Each of us, famous or infamous, is a role model for somebody, and if we aren't, we should behave as though we are -- cheerful, kind, loving, courteous. Because you can be sure someone is watching and taking deliberate and diligent notes.
We are all creative, but by the time we are three of four years old, someone has knocked the creativity out of us. Some people shut up the kids who start to tell stories. Kids dance in their cribs, but someone will insist they sit still. By the time the creative people are ten or twelve, they want to be like everyone else.
The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power.
If I could give you one thought, it would be to lift someone up. Lift a stranger up--lift her up. I would ask you, mother and father, brother and sister, lovers, mother and daughter, father and son, lift someone. The very idea of lifting someone up will lift you, as well.
You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.
You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn't do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.
We really are 15 countries, and it's remarkable that each of us thinks we represent the real America. The Midwesterner in Kansas, the black American in Durham - both are certain they are the real American.
To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision. Few, if any, survive their teens. Most surrender to the vague but murderous pressure of adult conformity. It becomes easier to die and avoid conflict than to maintain a constant battle with the superior forces of maturity.
Until recently each generation found it more expedient to plead guilty to the charge of being young and ignorant, easier to take the punishment meted out by the older generation (which had itself confessed to the same crime short years before). The command to grow up at once was more bearable than the faceless horror of wavering purpose, which was youth.
It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for blacks, without including whites. Because equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it.
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size But when I start to tell them, They think I'm telling lies. I say, It's in the reach of my arms The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me.
I would ask every man and every woman who's had the blessing of having children, 'Would you deny your son or your daughter the ecstasy of finding someone to love?' To love someone takes a lot of courage. So how much more is one challenged when the love is of the same sex and the laws say, 'I forbid you from loving this person'?
Love builds up the broken wall and straightens the crooked path. Love keeps the stars in the firmament and imposes rhythm on the ocean tides. Each of us is created of it and I suspect each of us was created for it
When we decide to be happy we accept the responsibility to bring happiness to someone else. Some decide that happiness and glee are the same thing, they are not. When we choose happiness we accept the responsibility to lighten the load of someone else and to be a light on the path to another who may be walking in darkness.
When I was asked to do something good, I often say yes, I'll try, yes, I'll do my best. And part of that is believing, if God loves me, if God made everything from leaves to seals and oak trees, then what is it I can't do?
The first thing I do in the morning when I awaken is say, 'Thank you, Lord!' I'm grateful to be alive, and I'm going to try to tell the truth as well as I know and tell it as eloquently as I can so that people can hear it.
Depending on who I am talking about or who's talking through me - if the person is a kind of hip-hop, or rhythm and blues person, or if the person is a kind of old-fashion gothic, meaning gothic attitude, then that will determine what form the poem will take.
Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.
Someone was hurt before you, wronged before you, hungry before you, frightened before you, beaten before you, humiliated before you, raped before you... yet, someone survived... You can do anything you choose to do.
I love living. I love that I'm alive to love my age. There are many people who went to bed just as I did yesterday evening and didn't wake this morning. I love and feel very blessed that I did. I love, too, that I know a little more today than I did yesterday, or I simply know it more profoundly.
I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.
Even here in America, we felt the cool, refreshing breeze of freedom when Nelson Mandela took the seat of Presidency in his country where formerly he was not even allowed to vote. We were enlarged by tears of pride as we saw Nelson Mandela's former prison guards invited, courteously, by him to watch from the front rows his inauguration.
The autobiographer looks at life through the lens of his or her own life and really uses herself or himself as the jumping-off place to examine the social mores and the economic and political climates. In a way, the autobiography becomes history as well as the story of one person, for it becomes the story of a family or the story of the state or nation.
Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope and a hope of wholeness, is the unshaking need for an unshakable God. My pretty Black brother was my Kingdom Come.
By no amount of agile exercising of a wistful imagination could my mother have been called lenient. Generous she was; indulgent never. Kind, yes, permissive, never. In her world, people she accepted paddled their own canoes, pulled their own weight, put their own shoulders to their own plows and pushed like hell.
Oh, Black known and unknown poets, how often have your auctioned pains sustained us? Who will compute the lonely nights made less lonely by your songs, or by the empty pots made less tragic by your tales? If we were a people much given to revealing secrets, we might raise monuments and sacrifice to the memories of our poets, but slavery cured us of that weakness.
Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.
Laugh and dare to try to love somebody, starting with yourself. You must love yourself first, of course, and you must protect yourself so that nobody overrides you, overrules you, or steps on you. Just say, 'Just a minute. I'm worth everything, dear.'
My people had used music to soothe slavery's torment or to propitiate God, or to describe the sweetness of love and the distress of lovelessness, but I knew no race could sing and dance its way to freedom.
I am convinced that most people do not grow up...We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias.
I made the decision to quit show business. Give up the skintight dresses and manicured smiles. The false concern over sentimental lyrics. I would never again work to make people smile inanely and would take on the responsibility of making them think.
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.
In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don't have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don't need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or of blood or water. Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you're sharing with.
Soft you day, be velvet soft, My true love approaches, Look you bright, you dusty sun, Array your golden coaches. Soft you wind, be soft as silk My true love is speaking. Hold you birds, your silver throats, His golden voice I'm seeking. Come you death, in haste, do come My shroud of black be weaving, Quiet my heart, be deathly quiet, My true love is leaving.
I can see in the acorn the oak tree. I see the growth, the rebuilding, the restoring. I see that is the American psyche. There is so much we can draw understanding from. One of the lessons is the development of courage. Because without courage, you can't practice any of the other virtues consistently.
People have to feel needed. Frequently, we just offer a job and 'perks.' We don't always offer people a purpose. When people feel there is a purpose and that they're needed, there's not much else to do except let them do the work.
I believe talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it. You can plug into it and light up a lamp, keep a heart pump going, light a cathedral, or you can electrocute a person with it. Electricity will do all that. It makes no judgment. I think talent is like that. I believe every person is born with talent.
Poetry and music are the best at the highest level of the human mind. Out of poetry, out of their need for poetry, human beings have developed the idea of God. And so when we sing, when we dance, when we speak poetry we are speaking out of God's mouth, each other out of the music from God's heart.
In today's climate in our country, which is sickened with the pollution of pollution, threatened with the prominence of AIDS, riddled with burgeoning racism, rife with growing huddles of the homeless, we need art and we need art in all forms. We need all methods of art to be present, everywhere present, and all the time present.
To take a few nouns, and a few pronouns, and adverbs and adjectives, and put them together, ball them up, and throw them against the wall to make them bounce. That's what Norman Mailer did. That's what James Baldwin did, and Joan Didion did, and that's what I do - that's what I mean to do.
When you know you are of worth, you don't have to raise your voice, you don't have to become rude, you don't have to become vulgar; you just are. And you are like the sky is, as the air is, the same way water is wet. It doesn't have to protest.
Forgiveness. It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody. You are relieved of carrying that burden of resentment. You really are lighter. You feel lighter. You just drop that.
At one time, you could sit on the Rue de la Paix in Paris or at the Habima Theater in Tel Aviv or in Medina and you could see a person come in, black, white, it didn't matter. You said, 'That's an American' because there's a readiness to smile and to talk to people.
I believe talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it. You can plug into it and light up a lamp, keep a heart pump going, light a cathedral, or you can electrocute a person with it. Electricity will do all that. It makes no
I believe we are still so innocent. The species are still so innocent that a person who is apt to be murdered believes that the murderer, just before he puts the final wrench on his throat, will have enough compassion to give him one sweet cup of wat
The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors, and deserves respect if not ent
If you have done the best you can do and if you have gotten all you could extract from something, you have given all you had to give, then the time has come when you can do no more than say thank you and move on.
A woman needs someone she can trust, someone who laughs when she laughs, but who has different ideas so she can learn from and teach to them. She needs someone who will stand up with her and encourage her to be a woman-not just a female. See where you are, admit what you know, and what you need, and search for a sister friend.
I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and the dragons of home under one's skin, at the extreme corners of one's eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.
When members of a society wish to secure that society's rich heritage they cherish their arts and respect their artists. The esteem with which we regard the multiple cultures offered in our country enhances our possibilities for healthy survival and continued social development.
What humility does for one is it reminds us that there are people before me. I have already been paid for. And what I need to do is prepare myself so that I can pay for someone else who has yet to come but who may be here and needs me.
And I not only have the right to stand up for myself, but I have the responsibility. I can't ask somebody else to stand up for me if I won't stand up for myself. And once you stand up for yourself, you'd be surprised that people say, "Can I be of help?"
All of childhood's unanswered questions must finally be passed back to the town and answered there. Heroes and bogey men, values and dislikes, are first encountered and labeled in that early environment. In later years they change faces, places and maybe races, tactics, intensities and goals, but beneath those penetrable masks they wear forever the stocking-capped faces of childhood.
I had read a Tale of Two Cities and found it up to my standards as a romantic novel. She opened the first page and I heard poetry for the first time in my life...her voice slid in and curved down trough and over the words. She was nearly singing.
Encouragement to all women is - let us try to offer help before we have to offer therapy. That is to say, let's see if we can't prevent being ill by trying to offer a love of prevention before illness.
If somebody is really trying to take your head off with a baseball bat - I don't know how long you're supposed to stand there and turn the other cheek, so he or she can get a better angle at taking your head off.
Politicians must set their aims for the high ground and according to our various leanings, Democratic, Republican, Independent, we will follow. Politicians must be told if they continue to sink into the mud of obscenity, they will proceed alone.
I believe that each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. So at this wonderful, young age of 65, I don't know yet what the Lord has for me to do. I try to live up to the energy and to the calling, but I wouldn't dare say I have even scratched the surface yet.
At one time in my life, from the time I was seven until I was about 13, I didn't speak. I only spoke to my brother. The reason I didn't speak: I had been molested, and I told the name of the molester to my brother who told it to the family.
All information belongs to everybody all the time. It should be available. It should be accessible to the child, to the woman, to the man, to the old person, to the semiliterate, to the presidents of universities, to everyone. It should be open.
If you're serious, you really understand that it's important that you laugh as much as possible and admit that you're the funniest person you ever met. You have to laugh. Admit that you're funny. Otherwise, you die in solemnity.
I'm a religious woman. And I feel I have responsibility. I have no modesty at all. I'm even afraid of it - it's a learned affectation and it's just stuck on me like decals. Now I pray for humility because that comes from inside out.
I promised myself that I would write as well as I can, tell the truth, not to tell everything I know, but to make sure that everything I tell is true, as I understand it. And to use the eloquence which my language affords me.
I could fall in love with a sumo wrestler if he told stories and made me laugh. Obviously, it would be easier if someone was African-American and lived next door and went to the same church. Because then I wouldn't have to translate.
And if a person is religious, I think it's good, it helps you a bit. But if you're not, at least you can have the sense that there is a condition inside you which looks at the stars with amazement and awe.
I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good.
Early on, I was so impressed with Charles Dickens. I grew up in the South, in a little village in Arkansas, and the whites in my town were really mean, and rude. Dickens, I could tell, wouldn't be a man who would curse me out and talk to me rudely.
You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.
When the human race neglects its weaker members, when the family neglects its weakest one - it's the first blow in a suicidal movement. I see the neglect in cities around the country, in poor white children in West Virginia and Virginia and Kentucky - in the big cities, too, for that matter.
I'm grateful to intelligent people. That doesn't mean educated. That doesn't mean intellectual. I mean really intelligent. What black old people used to call 'mother wit' means intelligence that you had in your mother's womb. That's what you rely on. You know what's right to do.
I know that one of the great arts that the writer develops is the art of saying, 'No. No, I'm finished. Bye.' And leaving it alone. I will not write it into the ground. I will not write the life out of it. I won't do that.
I know that I'm not the easiest person to live with. The challenge I put on myself is so great that the person I live with feels himself challenged. I bring a lot to bear, and I don't know how not to.
In all my work, in the movies I write, the lyrics, the poetry, the prose, the essays, I am saying that we may encounter many defeats - maybe it's imperative that we encounter the defeats - but we are much stronger than we appear to be and maybe much better than we allow ourselves to be. Human beings are more alike than unalike.
I'm always disappointed when people don't live up to their potential. I know that a number of people look down on themselves and consequently on everybody who looks like them. But that, too, can change.
If we accept being talked to any kind of a way, then we are telling ourselves we are not quite worth the best. And if we have the effrontery to talk to anybody with less than courtesy, we tell ourselves and the world we are not very intelligent.
If you will have a person enslaved, the first thing you must do is convince yourself that the person is subhuman. The second thing you have to do is convince your allies so you'll have some help, and the third and probably unkindest cut of all is to convince that person that he or she is subhuman and deserves it.