In 2008, I wanted to turn my writings into film work. And, unlike my previous company names, I wanted to create a name that meant something to many people. I wanted a name that resonated with people when they heard it. In 2008, I named my film and media company, Still Eye Rise with the eye spelled ‘eye.’ The name was inspired from Maya Angelou’s poem, And, Still I Rise… That poem was a call to action for me, personally. It said to me that my work would be about rising and even if the going got tough, we would rise anyway. andstillirise

Since she recently passed, I wanted to share a story about Dr. Maya Angelou with you. My mother took me to see her when I was 8 years old at the University of Delaware.

Even then I knew that I wanted to be a writer, but when I saw this woman, this poet, this performer recite words with such energy and passion, I was moved.

She performed her poems, but what I remembered most was her performance of a Negro Love Song by Paul Laurence Dunbar. She slapped her thigh and recited the words…

 

SEEN my lady home las’ night,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hel’ huh han’ an’ sque’z it tight,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hyeahd huh sigh a little sigh,
Seen a light gleam f’om huh eye,
An’ a smile go flittin’ by —
Jump back, honey, jump back.

 

The poem continued and I was enthralled. After this event, I talked about Maya Angelou the poet for days and days on in. The seed was planted in my head as an 8 year old that THIS is how a poet could be. At 8, I had already begun to write poems, but it would be much later in my life that I would also incorporate rhyming, performance, passion and a level of acting in my performances. I owe that inspiration to Maya Angelou.

 

Slide1People say many negative things about writers. They limit us. They say we write, but we don’t move. They say we write but we don’t engage. They say we write, but we don’t capture the energy of a live crowd. But, at 8 years of age,

Maya Angelou gave me the vision of what a poet could grow up to be.

Her presence truly energized me and I have never forgotten it. May Dr. Maya Angelou rest in peace and may I share the poem that inspired my company, And, Still I Rise… (I recite the poem in the podcast…) But, I encourage everyone to get a copy of the poem for themselves.

Peace & Love,

Yasmin

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