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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

I absolutely adore Maya Angelou. Words can not describe how much so. I remember years ago watching an episode of Showtime at the Apollo-- a show that show cased up-and-coming artists. There was a little girl around my age (ten) at the time. She was performing what I recall at the time, this soul stirring poem. I sat there glued to the television; thirsting for me. Inside I was screaming..." I want to do that. I want to say that poem."

The problem was; I was painfully shy as a child. I had much to say, but very much afraid to say it aloud. Besides, who'd want to listen to me anyways? The mind is a funny thing is it not? To succeed or fail--it takes a made up mind.

I vividly recall something within me stirring to life. It was to be on television, with the hopes of my friends watching me, or to even become famous. It was those words, penetrating in my ten-year-old heart. "Still I Rise. Still I Rise." The little girl's performance was mesmerizing. Now, several years later, it is that, I've never forgotten, that little girl; nor this wonderful poem "Still I Rise", written by Maya Angelou. My mind was made up! I would one day perform this piece, and I did! Oh, the process was not easy, it took bumps in the road, and yep, you've guessed it! A made up mind. :)


Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou
"Still I Rise"
from AND STILL I RISE by Maya Angelou,
copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou.
Used by permission of Random House, Inc.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

© Maya Angelou, 1978.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Michael Cogdill Author of She-Rain: A Story of Hope

Michael Cogdill is blessed as one of the most honored television storytellers in America. His cache of awards includes 24 Emmy's and the National Edward R. Murrow for a broad range of achievement, from live reporting to long-form storytelling. His work proves the power a message can hold when it reaches the human heart. Michael’s television credits as a writer/performer include CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, and The Today Show.

His interview credits are about as varied as you can get: The Reverend Billy Graham, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Abby Hoffman, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator John McCain, Howard K. Smith, James Brown, and countless eminent members of Congress along with other key news makers around the country. His coverage credits include Presidents and Vice Presidents of the United States and major figures in entertainment

Richardson: Hello Michael, thanks for chatting with me. Please tell us about She-Rain and the reception it has received so far.

Cogdill: We're floored by the reception thus far. Putting out a book is a daunting risk. I poured so much of my heart into She-Rain and the people within it, and I must confess some trembling at what could have come sailing back at me from readers. To have reviewers and other readers hail it as a classic, a must-read, couldn't-put-it-down, sentenced-me-to-an-all-nighter sort of book is thrilling.

Richardson: Very impressive! How long did it take for you to write She-Rain? I love the title by the way!

Cogdill: She-Rain occupied ten years of my life, and every moment I spent it its creation was a joy. I anchor the late news on an NBC affiliate, allowing She-Rain to become my after-work world of solace. There's a lot of 4:30 am in that book's writing!

Richardson: Michael you are 24-time Emmy-winning television journalist. Your novel, She-Rain, contains two narrative threads dedicated to the memory of Savannah. Were there any heavy research required to write She-Rain?

Cogdill: Some research, but nothing that sent me venturing into the moldy pages. The book's origins grew out of old family stories. I simply let those old tales seed my imagination.

Richardson: Michael, what do you want readers to take away from your book?

Cogdill: I want them entertained first. Books require the most precious capital we get to spend in this life -- our time. If you're not entertained, you've expended breath and time you'll never get back. Beyond this, I long to have readers linger in the glow of extravagant love. The love triangle in She-Rain is unlike any other ever written. It proves human hearts -- especially those who've been dragged through some dark times -- are capable of stunning greatness. Readers who take away a sense of our deeply human capacity to rise far beyond what seeks to drag us down will join in the joy I took in writing She-Rain. It takes on racism, classism, religious fundamentalism and the dross of living down to low expectations. May each reader of She-Rain be entertained and, in a lasting way, inspired.

Richardson: Inspiration is what motivates and aspires me! So, She-Rain, is right up my alley. Michael, what have you discovered about yourself on your journey to publication?

Cogdill: I've discovered that rejections truly can be God's protections. In the early going, agents didn't get it. Now, I have a major New York agent in love with it and the idea of another novel I have in store. To give up is to cheat ourselves out of the beauty that awaits us. She-Rain taught me never, ever, ever give up.

Richardson: Let's discuss rejection (s) shall we? How do/did you handle rejection (s)?

Cogdill: Get mad, get over it, keep going. To all who face rejection, allow yourself to lean into it, to see fully what motivates it and what it has to teach you, then write what you deem beautiful, entertaining and worthy of your legacy!

Richardson: What advice would you offer aspiring authors?

Cogdill: Write for beauty in an active language you celebrate as a music of your heart. If critics -- especially academics -- try to demand that you adopt their styles or be condemned as no good, shed them into the dust of your creative feet. The best teachers build up your unique voice. A few out there -- not so many, after all -- will seek to tear you down to their level. Don't go!

Richardson: Wonderfully stated and humbly received. Are there any forth coming projections readers should be made aware of? How can readers contact you?

Cogdill: I'm working on a Vietnam-era novel entitled The Belles of Honeysuckle Road -- and it'll carry similar Southern themes found in She-Rain. My wife, Jill, and I have also put out an heirloom-quality children's title in hard cover, Cracker the Crab and the Sideways Afternoon, and we plan another children's title focused on giving hope amid death and loss. We call that one Where Did Joe Go? I'm also working on a non-fiction piece whose working title is Raise the Haze. All this amid my work in television. It's a full life.

Richardson: Sounds like one to watch out for! Michael, thank you for chatting with me. As always in closing, continue to inspire as you aspire!

Cogdill: You are a joy!! Wishes of peace and beauty to you and your group, always!!

She-Rain: A Story of Hope

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Celebrating Phenomenal Women: Phenomenal Author Bernice L. McFadden

The seeming inevitability of cruel fate juxtaposes the triumph of the spirit in this remarkably rich and powerful novel, Glorious. Bernice McFadden's fully realized characters are complicated, imperfect beings, but if ever a character were worthy of love and honor, it is her Easter Bartlett. This very American story is fascinating; it is also heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and beautifully written."—Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of The Scenic Route

"Riveting. . . . I am as impressed by its structural strength as by the searing and expertly imagined scenes.”—Toni Morrison, on The Warmest December

Glorious is set against the backdrops of the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights era. Blending the truth of American history with the fruits of Bernice L. McFadden’s rich imagination, this is the story of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose tumultuous path to success, ruin, and revival offers a candid portrait of the American experience in all its beauty and cruelty.

Glorious is ultimately an audacious exploration into the nature of self-hatred, love, possession, ego, betrayal, and, finally, redemption.

Bernice L. McFadden is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, including the classic Sugar and Nowhere Is a Place, which was a Washington Post best fiction title for 2006. She is a two-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of two fiction honors from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is working on her next novel.

Join us as we celebrate the year of phenomenal woman! We will acknowledge her commitments and accomplishments! My special guest will be author Bernice L. McFadden. Join us as we discuss her latest release, Glorious.

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Saturday, May 8th, 2010 6:00pm.
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