Where Does Maya Angelou Go To Write

Maya Angelou, the acclaimed American poet, writer, and civil rights activist, approaches her writing process with thoughtfulness and dedication. She requires certain conditions for her creative space and her presence therein in order to craft her beautiful, poignant works. Where does the literary master go to write?

Primarily, Angelou opts for specific places with which she is familiar and comfortable. These places are different for her depending on her current location. Avid readers can track Angelou’s path as she moves around, notes her changing favored spots in London, Paris, and other locations, and reflects on how they perceive the space she yearns for. When possible, she likes to find an enclave in which she can be undisturbed, the privacy allowing her to write in the quietude she yearns for.

When in her hometown of North Carolina, Angelou is nothing short of a regular at Wake Forest University, where she served as the Reynolds Professor of American Studies. Her preferred spot to read and write is known as the Black Box, a building in the middle of the campus which Angelou found to be especially inviting as a literary home. Not only is this a place that she loves for its seclusion and mental peace, however; it is also a location to which she is emotionally attached. In this way, she can also find herself connecting deeper with her readers, as they share in the same environment.

Angelou is prone to gain inspiration during her travels, and this is also to where she occasionally retreats in order to jot down thoughts and sentiments. While away, the Grand Hotel in London and the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris are two places which have long appealed to her. She recounts the energy which she draws from these spaces, the unique coziness which encourages her to take her time and engage with her words. Whether it is a park bench or a cheerful cafe, Angelou knows precisely which place speaks to her and her writing.

In addition to the above destinations, Angelou also likes to bring her craft to public places of lingering leisure. She has a penchant for picnics, as she believes that being in nature allows her to create with authenticity and conviction. Angelou can often be found within the confines of her backyard, the smell of fresh grass and blooming flowers transporting her back into familiar realms of thought.

Angelou Living and Writing in New York City

New York City has been a favorite destination of Angelou’s for many years. Though often short, her stays in the city permit her to appreciate the city and its culture in a fundamental way; she notes how Manhattan has swayed and shifted over the years, but yet, retains its charm and tenacious spirit. Quite fittingly, the city inspires her. On days when her creativity flounders, she pays a visit to the Carolina Coffey’s Tea Room in Greenwich Village and soaks in the lively atmosphere and nearby Broadway theaters, the energy re-invigorating her and propelling her forward.

When Angelou leaves the Tea Room and other bustling spacers, she enjoys the solace of her hotel. Though the hotels may differ between visits, the legendary poet generally chooses somewhere near the hustle and bustle, somewhere she can see what life is like for New Yorkers, but also maintain a comfortable distance. Unbeknownst to many, Angelou has a hidden hideaway near Central Park where she sinks into her writing and registers the nuances of the city.

Writing is the way Angelou voice echoes throughout the ages and despite the importance of travel and New York City, she remains true to her roots. The silence of her living room sofa in Winston Salem is also an integral part of her writing process, allowing her to feel connected to the home she knows and loves, emphasizing the integrality of the city to her creative output. Here, among her cherished artifacts, she is at ease and capable of exploring her ideas in one of her important writing spaces.

Angelou’s Writing Retreats and Writing Space

As the memories of inspiring cities and hotels fall away, Angelou often opts for a writing retreat. Generally, these retreats are of short duration and Angelou is known to escape to secluded islands and beach towns. As soon as she arrives, Angelou begins to search for her personal writing space, something that speaks to her alone. She has managed to find her own sources of literary muse amongst the fields in Vermont and the dunes in Hawaii.

Closer to home, the Low Country of the South Carolina and Georgia coastline is a piece of’ Heaven’, as Angelou eloquently describes it. For her, there is a special poetry buried beneath the marshes and branches, and, as a result, she has escaped there multiple times throughout her writing career. Additionally, Angelou finds creative comfort when in the home of a dear friend. Surrounded by books, music, and warmth, Angelou sometimes finds her voice in this space as well s style: a delicate orchestration of words and feelings which grant her readers insight into her identity and deeper depths of understanding.

When these places cannot serve her writing needs, Angelou visits her husband’s Compton house situated outside of some of America’s most prestigious universities; this is where the distinguished author can revisit the past, explore topics of love and nature, and reflect on her own inspirations. It is in this quiet, still home that Angelou finds tranquility, the space in which to slow down and review with perspective while still being surrounded by family and beauty. These locations rarely inspire the same fervor as her others, but Angelou says they are of significant value to her and her writing process.

Angelou’s Writing Technique

In addition to the different places and spaces she frequents, Angelou has shared some insight into her writing techniques. Typically, she requires total silence for her task at hand and silences all possible noises to ensure pure concentration. Near her desk stands a portable loudspeaker, a tool which is handy for listening to jazz music in the background, the beat sometimes helping her articulate her work. Furthermore, Angelou likes to keep her writing tool with her at all times, sometimes even jotting down her thoughts on her napkins and program papers.

Angelou finds that traditional tools of parchment, ink, and typewriter bring a sense of spontaneity to her creative process, allowing her to feel comfortable in both the space and the paper. By giving herself limitations on her paper, she is able to expand her creative possibilities and explore unknown ideas that may have been far-fetched on the computer. As a result, her desk will often be found covered in sharpie-data paper and typewriter rolls, a method which gives Angelou enough flexibility to form the words the way she wants them.

In the summer months, Angelou is also known to take her writing to the pool. Sporting a pith helmet, a sacred space where she can gather her ideas, she dips her toes in the water and breathes in the sweet smell of the sun. Contemplating life within the waves and refreshing, cool air becomes Angelou’s form of therapy and, as she says, her therapy masks the problems she chooses not to view.

For her, this is another form of seclusion, one in which the atmosphere provides a fresh and loyal feeling of home that can only be achieved in seclusion. In this way, regardless of where Angelou may be, she is able to write her unique, individual story and offer her readers insights into her immense world of thought, creativity, and beauty.

Working in a Group Setting

Angelou also tackles the task of writing in a previously uncommon setting: with groups of women and fellow writers. With the encouragement of these children-of-Nature and non-traditional thinkers, Angelou is able to immerse herself in ideas and conversations which provide her with unique, knowledge-based perspective of her material. She reciprocates this exchange by offering her own ode of experience and wisdom to her group, rendering fruitful and profitable partnerships.

These groups of writers, wherever they may be in the world, are general made up of composers and musicians. Among the writers and musicians, Angelou is able to cultivate an atmosphere of exchange which can benefit the experts with new material and, in some cases, help them envision the projects they could never have dreamt of. This provides an incredible growth opportunity for Angelou, as she is able to present her writing to those outside of her typical conventions, subsequently enriching and elevating her writing process.

Through her unique and specialized approach to writing, Angelou taps into a distinct energy and summons a literature that is truly her own. In her selected and preferred places, amidst the chants of musicians and preachers, between poetry and music, and in dialogue with the women of her circle, Angelou creates her works and brings them to life. It is in these spaces that beholders can find themselves engrossed in Angelou’s signature style and develop a new appreciation for her unique interpretation of life and the world.

The Writing Process as a Journey of Creative Exploration

Central to Angelou’s schematic is an exploration of the world, with Angelou often visiting places she has never been and sought out rare finds. She has always found beauty in the places outside her home, seeking comfort amidst the rock formations of Turkey, the Palatinate of Germany, and the hills near Tuscany. Upon her travels, Angelou unearths new towns and cultures, the exploration proving invaluable to Angelou as she finds moments of clarity through the affirmation of her senses.

It is true that Angelou likes a certain level of distance from her work, but she also encourages active dialogue between herself and her readers: in form of conversations, debates, or simply conversations exchanged over emails. Angelou shares a certain joy for recognizing her reader’s emotional response to her works, where she can see that her words have connected with someone who has felt the same. These connections create for her an invaluable experience, one which should not be underestimated.

Angelou’s writing process is rooted is the journey of creative exploration, an amalgamation of traditional and non-traditional strategies which assist her in creating truly captivating work. Though Angelou is not your typical writer, there are few resounding truths in her success: Be ever-changing, be bold, be brave, be honest, and appreciate each moment as it comes.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

Leave a Comment