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Letter to My Daughter
by Maya Angelou and Maya Angelou

Overview - For a world of devoted fans, a much-awaited new volume of absorbing stories and inspirational wisdom from one of our best-loved writers.
Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou's path to living well and living a life with meaning.
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More About Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou; Maya Angelou
 
 
 
Overview

For a world of devoted fans, a much-awaited new volume of absorbing stories and inspirational wisdom from one of our best-loved writers.
Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou's path to living well and living a life with meaning. Told in her own inimitable style, this book transcends genres and categories: guidebook, memoir, poetry, and pure delight.
Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters and taught her lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward, six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.
Whether she is recalling such lost friends as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a "lifelong endeavor," or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice–Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.
Like the rest of her remarkable work, Letter to My Daughter entertains and teaches; it is a book to cherish, savor, and share.
"I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native Americans and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you."
–from Letter to My Daughter
Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to reprint previously published material:
Mari Evans: Excerpt from "I Am A Black Woman" from I Am A Black Woman by Mari Evans (New York: William Morrow, 1970). Reprinted by permission of Mari Evans.
Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. and Harold Ober Associates: "I, Too" and "Dream Variations" from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad with David Russell, Associate Editor, copyright © 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes. Rights in the United Kingdom are controlled by Harold Ober Associates. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates.
Melvin B. Tolson, Jr. c/o The Permissions Company: Excerpt from "Dark Symphony" from Rendezvous With America (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1944). Originally published in Atlantic Monthly (September, 1941), copyright © 1941, 1944 by Melvin B. Tolson and copyright renewed 1968, 1972 by Ruth S. Tolson. Reprinted by permission of Melvin B. Tolson, r. c/o The Permissions Company, www.permissionscompany.com.

 
Details
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
  • Date: Sept 2008
 
Excerpts

From the book


1
Home

I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but from the age of three I grew up in Stamps, Arkansas, with my paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson, and my father's brother, Uncle Willie, and my only sibling, my brother, Bailey.

At thirteen I joined my mother in San Francisco. Later I studied in New York City. Throughout the years I have lived in Paris, Cairo, West Africa, and all over the United States.

Those are facts, but facts, to a child, are merely words to memorize, "My name is Johnny Thomas. My address is 220 Center Street." All facts, which have little to do with the child's truth.

My real growing up world, in Stamps, was a continual struggle against a condition of surrender. Surrender first to the grown up human beings who I saw every day, all black and all very, very large. Then submission to the idea that black people were inferior to white people, who I saw rarely.

Without knowing why exactly, I did not believe that I was inferior to anyone except maybe my brother. I knew I was smart, but I also knew that Bailey was smarter, maybe because he reminded me often and even suggested that maybe he was the smartest person in the world. He came to that decision when he was nine years old.

The South, in general, and Stamps, Arkansas, in particular had had hundreds of years' experience in demoting even large adult blacks to psychological dwarfs. Poor white children had the license to address lauded and older blacks by their first names or by any names they could create.

Thomas Wolfe warned in the title of America's great novel that "You Can't Go Home Again." I enjoyed the book but I never agreed with the title. I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and dragons of home under one's skin, at the extreme corners of ones eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.

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 things in and around the child, the region's only enfranchised citizen.

Geography, as such, has little meaning to the child observer. If one grows up in the Southwest, the desert and open skies are natural. New York, with the elevators and subway rumble and millions of people, and Southeast Florida with its palm trees and sun and beaches are to the children of those regions, the ways the outer world are, has been, and will always be. Since the child cannot control that environment, she has to find her own place, a region where only she lives and no one else can enter.

I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. 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 still innocent and shy as magnolias.

We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.


2
Philanthropy

To write about giving to a person who is naturally generous reminds me of a preacher passionately preaching to the already committed choir. I am encouraged to write on because I remember that from time to time, the choir does need to be uplifted and thanked for its commitment. Those voices need to be encouraged to sing again and again, with even more emotion.

Each single American giver keeps alive the American Cancer Society, the Red Cross,...

 
Reviews

"It's a book to give to one's daughter, mother, son or father, but definitely one to be read and savored." - Baltimore Sun

"Sound advice, vivid memory and strong opinion . . . What is clear is that [Maya] Angelou is, all these years later, still a charmer, still speaking her mind." - Washington Post Book World

"A slim volume packed with nourishing nuggets of wisdom . . . Overarching each brief chapter is the vital energy of a woman taking life's measure with every step." - Kirkus Reviews

"Written in Angelou's beautiful, poetic style, the essays feel like warm advice from a beloved aunt or grandmother, whose wisdom you know was earned." - Fredericksburg Free Lance--Star

"Spellbinding . . . Angelou delivers with her signature passion and fire. . . . Each [essay] delivers a powerful message." - Rocky Mountain News

 
Customer Reviews