Prolific writer Maya Angelou shows little sign of slowing down

Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:01pm EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American author Maya Angelou has written more than 30 books, won numerous awards, released her latest work, "Mom & Me & Mom," earlier this year, and at the age of 85 shows little sign of slowing down.

Best known for her groundbreaking autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," Angelou is already working on her next book and will be honored at the National Book Awards ceremony on Wednesday, along with "Ragtime" author E. L. Doctorow, for her service to the literary community.

The prolific African-American poet, writer, teacher and Grammy winner for three spoken-word albums, said she is delighted with the accolade and stressed the importance of books and reading.

"I have become a writer and the woman I am in many cases because of the books I have read," she said in an interview from her home in North Carolina.

Angelou believes reading is particularly important in a technological age filled with audio books, social media and smartphones.

"To hold a book in your hand and read it aloud, with your own rhythms and stretches, somehow the story becomes more realistic," she said. "It has a feeling of being a fairy tale when read to, but becomes reality when you read it."

Angelou's "I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings" is a coming-of-age story in a hostile society in the American South in the 1930s and '40s that deals with racism and rape. It is considered an American classic.

But it was her latest autobiography, "Mom & Me & Mom," about her mother and grandmother and what they taught her, that she said was probably the hardest book to write.   Continued...

U.S. poet Maya Angelou speaks during a ceremony to honor South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in Washington in this file photo taken November 21, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young/Files