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Books: Celebrations -- Rituals of Peace and Prayer

Maya Angelou
Poet, author
Thursday, November 2, 2006 2:00 PM

Poet Maya Angelou was online Thursday, Nov. 2 at 2 p.m. to take questions and comments about her life and work, including her new book, "Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer."

A transcript follows.

Angelou is one of America's most celebrated poets and writers. Her latest book includes both, "Amazing Peace," delivered at the 2005 White House tree lighting, and "On the Pulse of Morning," written for President Clinton's 1993 inauguration.

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washingtonpost.com: Dr. Angelou's chat will begin at 2:10. We apologize for the delay.

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Fairfax, Va.: I love your work and I am so happy you are speaking with us today!

I just finished reading Rebecca Walker's "Black, White, and Jewish" and I am curious about your views of the mixed-race child in America today. Why is it so hard to identify positively with both races and be accepted with both? How can people learn to be more tolerant and eventually accepting of mixed marriages and children? Is there a way to stop segregating ourselves?

Maya Angelou: The truth is every marriage is a mixed marriage. when people understand that, there will then be a lot more tolerance. People who are not born together -- even twins -- have different ideas. People who are the same color and go to the same church and go to the sam school still have different ideas. They still have to get thee in-laws to speak with those in-laws.

I don't know how to stop it, and if I did, I would rent a plane and go around skywriting it.

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Laurel, Md.: Dr. Angelou,

I was deeply affected by your novel and memoir, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". Why do you believe it is banned in so many places in the United States? Do you feel that "explicit/graphic sexuality" is a legitimate reason to remove a book from library shelves or from classroom walls?

Maya Angelou: I am among the most banned writiers. However, I am also among the most read. All of my books are still in print. Along with Vonnegut, Judy Bloom and Mark Twain, Shakespeare and Charles Dickens -- the sad thing is that a number of people's parents who want my books banned have never read a page of my work, because if they did they would beg their children to read my books. The answer to all these questions is that it is ignorance that prevails, not all the time, but sometimes.

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Cranford, N.J.: Ms. Angelou: I greatly admire you. How do you keep your faith in hard times that we humans simply do not understand. When GOD doesn't seem to hear or care?

Maya Angelou: Faith is the evidence of things unseen. I don't have faith forever and every minute. I do know when I become afraid -- I run like a barefoot kid running. I run to God and say, I'm in trouble now. I don't believe in you. But I have seen the workings of God. I don't understand why young children have cancer. I don't understand why tsumanis take place, and Katrinas and earthquakes. I am closer to understanding the cruelty of human beings than the wayward ways of nature. There's an old spiritual, which goes, "I will understand it better by and by" -- and I have a feeling, i hope, I'll understand it better by and by.

One thing you can do is do everything you can to make it a better world for someone other than yourself. Please.

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washingtonpost.com: Unfortunately, Dr. Angelou is unable to continue the discussion.

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washingtonpost.com: We will attempt to reschedule the chat for another date.

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