Archive | February, 2012

Maya Angelou

27 Feb

Today’s post subject, Maya Angelou, is a “poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director” so it’s no wonder she’s often referred to as a Renaissance woman.

First stop is definitely her official web site where you can read a biography, read the latest news, and check out videos & photos.

CBS News has a new series entitled “Note to Self” where various figures are asked: “If you could offer insights and advice to the person you were as a teenager, what would you say?” Click here to see what Maya Angelou had to say.

Voices From the Gaps has an extensive Angelou page.

There are thousands of videos available on YouTube of Angelou’s interviews, lectures, and speeches. Here’s her reading at President Clinton’s inaugural.

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”

Amiri Baraka

24 Feb

Amiri Baraka, formerly known as LeRoi Jones, is today’s post subject and was a major influence of the Black Arts Movement.

Modern American Poetry offers up a biography with historical context as well as a few short interviews and one lengthy conversation.

Baraka is a controversial artist and more can be read about that here as well as here, which speaks specifically to Baraka’s poem “Somebody Blew Up America.”

His (official?) site can be accessed here with access to information about his work, life as well as photos.


Toni Morrison

23 Feb

Today’s post subject, Toni Morrison, celebrated her 81st birthday last Saturday – Happy Belated Birthday! Morrison is a Pulitzer AND Nobel Prize winner with an impressive body of work, which includes Sula, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved.

Read a lengthy biography at Voices From the Gaps – the site also provides some analytical critiques of her more famous works.

The Toni Morrison Society offers a number of resources as well as a photo gallery.

YouTube has over 1000 clips and videos, which includes lectures, speeches, and interviews.

You can read about her Nobel Prize win here.

The University of Buffalo has a number of general links as well as links to essays on specific novels.

Here is a beautifully put together fan site.

The Ohio Reading Road Trip web site provides a number of Morrison related links.

“Everything I’ve ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it.”
— Toni Morrison

Yusef Komunyakaa

22 Feb

Today’s post subject, Yusef Komunyakaa, is a poet, professor, and scholar who has been described as one who “takes on the most complex moral issues, the most harrowing ugly subjects of our American life. His voice, whether it embodies the specific experiences of a black man, a soldier in Vietnam, or a child in Bogalusa, Louisiana, is universal. It shows us in ever deeper ways what it is to be human.”

Poetry Foundation has a biography and bibliography – check it out here.

Komunyakaa provides some insight on his thoughts about poetry: “Poetry is a kind of distilled insinuation. It’s a way of expanding and talking around an idea or a question. Sometimes, more actually gets said through such a technique than a full frontal assault.”

You can check out about 100 lectures and readings on YouTube. If you prefer to listen only, check out these MP3S.

Some of his poems are available online; here are just a few. offers up a few, which they display in a pretty neat flow-y way.



bell hooks

21 Feb


Since today’s post subject, bell hooks, has made an appearance on an LHS Writing Center flyer, I thought it a good idea to devote today’s appreciation to her.

The University of Minnesota’s Voices from the Gaps has a wonderful biography as well as a bibliography for hooks.

allaboutbellhooks is a wonderful fan site that’s all about bell hooks – the site contains links to articles, videos, and interviews as well as information about her works.

hooks has been a long-time contributor to Shambhala Sun and the site offers access to a number of her articles.

You can find a bunch of videos of hooks speaking here.

This Canadian site offers links to all kinds of resources.

Any favorite hooks work?


Ralph Ellison

20 Feb

Today’s post subject, Ralph Waldo Ellison (who, coincidentally, was named for a very famous Ralph Waldo), was inspired by the book I’m currently reading, Invisible Man, which is also Ellison’s most famous work. Have you read it? What do you think?

The PBS show American Masters provides a page on the author as well as a career timeline.

Check out news and reviews from the archives of the New York Times.

This link takes you to even more links that focus on Invisible Man.

Photos of first edition copies can be viewed here.

* Invisible Man Sculpture in Harlem, NYC *

Lorraine Hansberry

17 Feb

Wednesday’s post subject Langston Hughes inspired today’s post subject Lorraine Hansberry? Can you guess why?

To learn more about Hansberry, check out Perspectives in American Literature for a biography, primary works, and a bibliography.

Should you find yourself in San Francisco consider visiting the Lorainne Hansberry Theatre.

You can check out her neighborhood here as well as other prominent Chicago residents.

Have you seen the 1961 movie starring Sidney Poitier? If you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend it. Sidney Poitier is an amazing Walter Lee Younger. Has anyone seen the 2008 version with Diddy? What did you think?

%d bloggers like this: