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31 May 2014

Remembering the Influence of Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou passed out of our world on 28 May 2014.  A great poet, writer and activist, I discovered she had also been a Calypso singer.  Why do we discover these things after someone dies?  NPR had this great remembrance including a quote from Billie Holiday, which now I cannot find on its site, but Associated Press came through

Some of us believe poetry is meant to be read aloud.  Others see poetry as visual art.  Maya Angelou was a great orator and could read her poetry like nobody's business.  Her greatest influence, a book which still sold a copy now again, was her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which unbelievably had been banned at one point. 

Long before Books on First, when Larry was just a lad, there was a bookstore in Dixon, called Edward's Bookstore.  Larry and most everyone else who mentioned it recalled that the guy who ran Edward's (it is in question as to when the actual Edward was still there at Edward's) was a curmudgeon who really did not welcome customers and that the store didn't have anything they wanted to buy (surmised in the very brief time that they were in the uncomfortable store looking).  They were happy that we came to Dixon to give them a new perspective on small independent bookstores.

However, I recall one person who grew up on a Lee County farm, but now lives in San Francisco who had visited Dixon a few years after we opened and exclaimed over Books on First, fondly recalling Edward's.  She said, "I remember that the first book I ever bought there was Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  It was the most incredible book.  And because I found it at Edward's, I think of Edward's as an oasis of enlightenment and I love that you're carrying on the tradition."

We're happy to be here.  And, we're happy to continue the tradition of sharing Maya Angelou with all of you.

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