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Photo of the Week: Author and Poet, Gillian Alex

Our Photo of the Week is a photo of author and poet, Gillian Alex, at the Harlem Book Fair on July 15, 2017.

On the left, Gillian is standing beside her signage for her latest spoken word project, Put Some Respect on Our Name.

In the photo on the right, Gillian is holding a copy of her book, Tuesday at Three.

Maya Angelou; Legendary Poet, Author, and Civil Rights Activist Dies at Age 86

What's The 411TV is deeply saddened by the passing of DR. MAYA ANGELOU, a legendary poet, author, and civil rights activist. She died today at 86 years old.

Dr. Angelou was the 2013 winner of the National Book Foundation's Literarian Award. She accepted the award on November 20, 2013, at the National Book Awards in New York City.

Nobel Laureate, and her longtime friend, TONI MORRISON presented Dr. Angelou with the award at the National Book Awards ceremony. Ms. Morrison spoke warmly of her friendship with Dr. Angelou and praised her talent and kindness.

The phenomenal woman herself was all smiles when she took the stage to a standing ovation from the crowd. What's The 411TV correspondent Kizzy Cox had the distinct privilege of interviewing Dr. Angelou at the National Book Awards, you can view Dr. Angelou's poetic interview here.

For nearly fifty years, Dr. Maya Angelou has moved us with her lyrical poetry and dynamic prose. Works like PHENOMENAL WOMAN and I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS have become literary classics. Her poem, On The Pulse of Morning, written for President BILL CLINTON'S 1993 inauguration, garnered her the first of three Grammys (even more impressive because she was the first African-American and woman to recite an inaugural poem). Dr. Angelou also received a NAACP Image Award, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she topped What's The 411TV's List of 25 MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE OF 2013, among other awards.

As Charlayne Haynes, producer of the upcoming documentary, DIRT AND DEEDS IN MISSISSIPPI, so eloquently stated: "This bold poet lived fully. So long, Maya!"

So long, indeed, until we meet again.

  • Published in Authors

Poet and activist, Sonia Sanchez in Rehearsal for Def Poetry

Award-winning poet Sonia Sanchez rehearsing for Def Poetry Jam

What's The 411 attended a media event for Def Poetry Jam, and captured poet and activist, Sonia Sanchez, during a rehearsal/sound check for an episode of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, better known as Def Poetry Jam.

An educator, mother, and winner of several awards for her poetry and activism, Ms. Sanchez is most often associated with the Black Arts Movement. In fact, Sanchez was a very influential part of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Studies Movement. Sanchez has edited two anthologies on Black literature, We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans and 360° of Blackness Coming at You. She continues to advocate for the rights of oppressed women and minority groups.

Def Poetry Jam, a spoken word poetry television series hosted by Mos Def, in addition to Ms. Sanchez, featured many established and up-and-coming poets and spoken word artists and aired on HBO from 2002 through 2007.

  • Published in Music

Poet Lemon Andersen is Navigating His Career in Right Direction

When life got tough, Lemon didn’t make lemonade, he created an orchard

Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, artist extraordinaire, Lemon Anderson’s specialty is spoken-word, poetry, and acting. What makes Lemon special is his tenacity. After bouncing around from school to school, Lemon found himself in jail at Rikers Island and fortunately, at Rikers, he found a great teacher. From there Lemon began to focus on his greatness. He learned that life is a marathon, not a sprint, and you have to put the work in to see results.

Lemon considers himself to be a studied poet, which means he follows and studies the great poets who have come before him, which is a great attribute because so many people across industries don’t recognize the people who have come before them. They tend to think it’s unimportant or it doesn’t matter. Lemon also recognized from studying great poets that poetry is performance art which actually separates decent poets from great poets. A so-so poet may just recite a poem, but great poets put their whole being into the words. So when Spike Lee saw Lemon’s performance in Def Poetry on Broadway, he extended an opportunity to Lemon to work on two of his films proving that putting the work in was starting to pay off.

We’ll be watching.

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