Women are some of my favourite people in the world. Of course, I like men, too. But it so happens that so many women, both celebrated and unknown have touched my life in a mighty way. Maya Angelou was one of those women and even in death she still does, not only in her writing but also in the memories I have of meeting her a couple of times, if only briefly.
Back in the early 80s, as a young English major, I fell for Maya, perhaps because she was the favourite writer of my then favourite professor—Shirley Harding, who I remember shouting in joy about an opportunity to meet her—or was it because she wrote so honestly and beautifully. In any case, she became a lifetime favourite.
When I first met her in New York City at a book signing, I remember feeling her aura, her electricity, if you will. And then at Girl Scouts of the USA’s National Convention in 1990 in Miami, l felt it again and how! I was in her presence, her company. I have no idea what I said to her or what she said to me, if anything, on either occasion. But on the first, she wrote Sonja, ‘Joy’ and signed Maya Angelou in the book I had purchased.
Of course, she must have signed all books this or that way, but I went away holding All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes close to my chest. And now when I sign my own books, I do so joyfully, often remembering Maya, who will always be one of my favourite writers, poets, women. And that’s that.