Piccolo Spoleto poets, guests honor Maya Angelou

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Vernon Fowlkes dedicated his Piccolo Spoleto poetry reading Wednesday to the late Maya Angelou, who died at the age of 86.

"Whether heaven is or isn't, in the end it's time that flashes brightly then goes dim. Like time, love burns as if a fire, that no matter how warm, is never long enough," Fowlkes read.

Angelou's spirit shined on the Dock Street Theater courtyard for the evening poetry hour, a nightly tradition during Piccolo Spoleto.

"Nobody sounded like Maya Angelou," speaker Marjory Wentworth said. "The first time she came to my attention is when she read the Inaugural poem for Clinton's second inauguration. It was just a beautiful, moving poem. I think she's become bigger than life."

Wentworth is South Carolina's poet laureate and she teaches at the Art Institute of Charleston.

Angelou's work and her accomplishments inspired her and her students.

"She came out of this difficult situation and yet her work is so affirming and hopeful," Wentworth said.

"I was like six or seven when I first heard about her. A lot of her work dealt with empowerment for African Americans and dealing with hardships and rising through hardship. That had an impact on me," Piccolo Spoleto intern Marcus Shuler said.

Angelou's words accomplished something rare in poetry: they went mainstream and inspired a generation of writers, poets and artists.