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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Poet Angelou celebrates ‘heroes, she-roes'”

    As a result of sexual assault at age 7, Maya Angelou decided to stop speaking.

    “”Without poetry, I may have never spoken a word,”” Angelou said Sunday as she shared her personal experiences with a crowd of 2,500 at Centennial Hall.

    While addressing social issues including sexual assault, teen pregnancy and the importance of self-esteem, Angelou’s reading brought with it a theme of overcoming life’s obstacles, illustrated in her frequently used metaphor of finding a rainbow in the clouds.

    “”She is such an inspirational woman, not only for children but for adults,”” said Natalie Bohnet, executive director of UApresents.

    “”She is a wonderful role model of overcoming adversity and an example of how you can turn your life around into something more positive.””

    UApresents sold a total of 1,900 tickets, Bohnet said, and 600 were taken by sponsors such as the UA College of Humanities and Cox Communications, who reserved seats for children from kindergarten through 12th grade to attend.

    Student participation was wonderful in this event, Bohnet said, referring to the opening acts, which included poetry of student winners of a Tucson Unified School District poetry contest and a dance performed by students at Rincon High School that was inspired by Angelou’s poem “”Equality.””

    “”I love that students are participating,”” said Abby Coll, a senior majoring in English and art history.

    “”It was one of the coolest parts of the night.””

    Somehow, stories about ignorance, racism and an addiction to cigarettes came wrapped up in a little bit of fun.

    “”I hope I was able to make you laugh,”” Angelou said to the crowd.

    “”I never trust people who don’t laugh.””

    In a gesture rarely seen from those who acquire as much fame as Angelou, the poet read a combination of her own works while highlighting other poets, including Langston Hughes and Mari Evans, both of whom she said have inspired her.

    “”It was especially interesting to hear who some of her favorite poets are,”” said Jill Zintsmaster, an elementary education senior.

    “”It was very humble of her to recognize others like that.””

    The night came as a result of five months of planning and collaboration between UApresents and the UA Poetry Center, Bohnet said.

    Collaborations such as these, she said, are instrumental in making a show a success.

    “”People live in direct relation to their heroes and she-roes,”” Angelou said toward the end of her reading.

    Angelou’s books include “”I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”” and “”Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die.””

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