Dr. Maya Angelou, a beloved American poet, author, actor, and Civil Rights activist, has died at the age of 86. She became a member of our exchange alumni community following her Fulbright 40th Anniversary Distinguished Lecturer grant in 1986, during which she lectured in Liberia. Prior to her Fulbright grant, in the mid-1950s, she toured 22 countries in Europe and Africa with a State Department production of the Gershwin folk opera, “Porgy and Bess.”
Dr. Angelou, author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and “And Still I Rise”, was a Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. At President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration ceremony, she read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning.” She was the second poet to present at a presidential inauguration; her recording of the poem later won a Grammy in the “Best Spoken Word” category. You can watch a clip of that momentous occasion here.
She was awarded the Presidential Medal for the Arts in 2000 and the Lincoln Medal in 2008. Pictured here, on February 15, 2011, she was awarded the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
Through her illustrious career, life, and legacy, she inspires our passion for lifelong education and the arts.
Old map of the Paris métro, found in a book.
You don’t have to pay a lot of dough to visit Paris. I know a way you can get there for free.
For Free? Yes, for free.
Use your brain, google Images and a few good books set in Paris to wisk you away. Your wallet will thank you!
Books about Paris!
Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris - Graham Robb
“As the shabby section of the audience rose to its feet, waving its hats and food-wrappers, a rich, stale smell wafted through the auditorium. It had something of the fog on the boulevard outside, where the pavements were sticky with rain, but also something more intimate : it suggested old stew and course tobacco, the coat racks and bookshelves of a pawnshop, and damp straw mattresses impregnated with urine and patchouli. It was - as though the set designer had intended some ironical epilogue - the smell of the real Latin Quarter.”
Proust at the Majestic - Richard Davenport Hines
"A very interesting book that takes as its focus one of the last dinners that Proust attended before his death. Guests included James Joyce, Picasso, Stravinsky, and other luminaries. Quite the gathering. I will say that this is the book that provided fundamental insights that have formed my understanding of Proust and his work. Quite a straightforward insight - that the title should be translated- Redeeming Lost Time - in the sense of finding something of value in the trivial pursuits of a lifetime and the decades devoted to cultivating extraordinarily superficial and pointless human beings, irrespective of their wealth and status. One uses the experience to make art, and without that use, the years and decades remain truly lost" (Goodreads Review)
The Oracle Glass - Judith Merkle Riley
With imaginative verve, intelligence, and exceptional detail, The Oracle Glass captures the rich tang of one of history’s most irresistible eras. Spinning actual police records from the reign of Louis XIV into a darkly captivating story, it follows the fortunes of Genevieve Pasquier, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been transformed into an imperious, seemingly infallible fortune-teller… Genevieve is a skinny, precocious little monkey with a mind full of philosophy and the power to read the swirling waters of an oracle glass - for a demimonde who will believe anything. Left for dead by her family, Genevieve is taken in by La Voisin, an ingenious occultist and omnipotent society fortune-teller. La Voisin also rules a secret society of witches - abortionists and poisoners - who manipulate the lives of the rich and scandalous all the way up to the throne. Tutored by La Voison, Genevieve creates a new identity for herself - as the mysterious Madame de Morville, complete with an antique black dress, a powdered face, a cane, and a wickedly sarcastic streak who is supposedly nearly one hundred fifty years old.
Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky
“Paris had its sweetest smell, the smell of chestnut trees in bloom and of petrol with a few grains of dust that crack under your teeth like pepper. In the darknes the danger seemed to grow. You could smell the suffering in the air, in the silence. Everyone looked at their house and thought, “Tomorrow it will be in ruins, tomorrow I’l have nothing left.”
The Lavender Garden - Lucinda Riley
Paris, 1944: A bright, young British office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is sent undercover to Paris to be part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive during the climax of the Nazi occupation. Separated from her contacts in the Resistance, she soon stumbles into the heart of a prominent family who regularly entertain elite members of the German military even as they plot to liberate France. But in a city rife with collaborators and rebels, Constance’s most difficult decision may be determining whom to trust with her heart.
Old Standards also include Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, and Colette’s Gigi. More literary fare include Enrique Villa-Mata’s There’s never any End to Paris, Elaine Dundy’s The Dud Avocado, and George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. And of course, who could forget the classics by Balzac and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables?
I pity people who’ve never been to Vegas. Who dismiss the city without setting foot on its carpeted sidewalks. I’ll forgive the sanctimony in the question “But what do you do there?” The obnoxious self-regard. Sanctimony and self-regard are as American as smallpox blankets and supersize meals. As a foreigner, I make a point never to judge the cultural norms of my adopted country.
From the writer of a Sag Harbor, a former Long Island Reads pick.