Weekend Poem: Abundant Hope by Maya Angelou

On MLK Day, some thoughts from Maya Angelou and Forest Whitaker on MLK — a post from 2013.


Maya Angelou is a living monument. So, it was fitting that, when the Martin Luther King Memorial was dedicated in August 2011, she wrote a poem in his honor. With the 50th anniversary of that historic March on Washington coming up, let’s revisit that poem. Of course, with Angelou, it’s always better if you can find a video of her performing the poem, but there doesn’t seem to be one with clear audio. Consider, though, these lines:

Martin Luther King

Faced the racial
Mountain of segregation and
And bade it move.

The giant mound of human ignorance
Centuries old
And rigid in its determination
Did move, however slightly, however infinitesimally,
It did move.

I will go, I shall go
I’ll see what the end will be.

. . .

Lord, don’t move your mountain,
Just give me strength to climb it.

. . .

You don’t have to move

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Five Commencement Speeches From 2016

'Tis the season for commencement/graduation speeches. When I first moved to the US and came across this annual tradition at universities and schools, I was somewhat impressed and a tad envious. That was in the days before Youtube and social media, so one only heard or read about the best such speeches in print news, which did not cover them quite as much or as effectively. Still, reading about the odd speech always made me wish that some famous and accomplished person, who many looked up to, had also visited my school/college/university to share hard-earned life lessons and critical words of wisdom. Beyond the pep-talkiness and dramatic eloquence of it all, what drew me in was the sense of an important ritual or a rite of passage being observed and celebrated.

zadie smith

Marginalia: Zadie Smith’s Note to Readers

A novel is a two-way street, in which the labor required on either side is, in the end, equal. Reading, done properly, is every bit as tough as writing - I really believe that. As for those people who align reading with the essentially passive experience of watching television, they only wish to debase reading and readers. The more accurate analogy is that of the amateur musician placing her sheet music on the stand and preparing to play. She must use her own hard-won skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift she gives the composer, and the composer gives her.