Maya Angelou Dies At 86

“What hasn’t Maya Angelou done? A poet, memoirist, historian, activist, and professor; a three-time Grammy winner for her spoken-word recordings; a nightclub dancer; a cabaret and calypso singer; a Broadway actress, a film and television director; a performer for Alvin Ailey; the second poet, after Robert Frost, to appear at an American presidential inauguration; an ardent tweeter until the very end—86 years seems too short to contain the boil and glow of her life. But Angelou lived to challenge limits.” (Waldman)


Here are some great articles and videos that have been making their way around the web since her passing:

Maya Angelou, Poet, Activist and Singular Storyteller, Dies at 86

Maya Angelou Often Left New York, but She Always Came Back

Maya Angelou, radical activist

Maya Angelou explains how she once made Tupac Shakur cry

Words to Live By: Remembering Maya Angelou’s Inspirational Quotes

Maya Angelou showed how to survive rape and racism — and still be joyful

Maya Angelou: A Hymn to Human Endurance

Maya Angelou’s TV Legacy, from “Roots” to “Sesame Street”


Caged Bird


A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird” from Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? Copyright © 1983 by Maya Angelou.



An Interview with Professor Jennifer Person, author of new poetry book

An Interview with Professor Jennifer Person

by Destiny Rivera

Destiny Rivera is completing a double major in English and Psychology at SUNY College at Old Westbury. She spends most of her free time thinking about the implications of her continuous survival and seeks to make every moment something worth looking back on.

Professor Jennifer Person is an adjunct professor in the English Department at SUNY College at Old Westbury. Her first book of poetry, Look at Something Beautiful Every Day, was recently independently published by Xlibris Press and is available on and

Destiny Rivera: When did you decide that you wanted to write a book?

JP: I always wanted to write a book. This was a big life-long dream of mine. I started this book three years ago and I knew I wanted it to be poetry and art work together.  I woke up one morning at 3:00am and I had this idea and it was completely formed from start to finish in my mind. I started working on it right there and then.

[The book] went through a lot of transformations. At first, I was going to not only make it a poetry collection but I wanted it to have artwork from the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well since I used to work there and had favorite pieces from the collections that I wanted to use. The idea transformed and [then] I thought that what I wanted is for it to be a textbook for art and literature students. This meant that the book would have to have a lot more pictures and a lot more topics.  It turned out that the book was way too big by that point and would have had to be scaled back in a major way. Who knows, maybe it will become Look at Something Beautiful Every Day – Part Two!

So I went to thinking about a smaller book of poetry and that’s when the ideas really took off.  I had a smaller idea and smaller images to accompany them. I started going through my neighborhood walking through the different places in my community and when I found something, an image, an object, even a person I stopped and asked permission to take a picture. There is a picture of a Buddha in the book that was in the window of an art studio. I spoke to the owner and she said “if you want to take a picture then that’s great –go ahead and use it in the book.” In the book there are also pictures from St. Ignatius Retreat House in Manhasset, there is a picture of a woman in our neighborhood, there are pictures of objects that we have in our home that are particularly beautiful and we had a chance to include some nature, like flowers and trees. I am very pleased with the final format.

Continue reading

Faculty Bio Project: Dr. Christopher Hobson

The final installment in our Faculty Bio Series is Dr. Christopher Hobson! We hope you enjoy reading his biography which was written by English major, Donny Alerte. Follow this link to learn more about Dr. Hobson!

You can find all of the faculty bios on the “Faculty” page of this website. Thanks again to all of our student interviewers and full-time faculty, and to Professor Williams for overseeing the project.

Look at Something Beautiful Every Day by Professor Jennifer Person

Look at Something Beautiful Every Day by Professor Jennifer Person

Look at Something Beautiful Every Day is my first book and was self-published by Xlibris publishers at the start of the Fall 2013 semester. The book is a collection of my original poetry paired with pictures of artwork that mirror the poems themselves. It is meant to be an eclectic collection of both genres and is a collaborative work — many people helped me over the three year period it took to write the book and bring it to publication. Professor Jessica Williams is an editor of the book and we worked closely together throughout the writing process and made many revisions as we went along. My intention when putting the book together was to make poetry accessible to all types of readers and to remind readers (as well as myself) of the importance of seeing beauty in everyday things and to engage all of their sense while reading the poems and looking at the paired images. My hope is that the book will achieve both of these things and appeal to readers who are new to poetry as well as those who are looking for fresh poems to read and consider. Look at Something Beautiful Every Day is available through Xlibris pushing and can be found on and Barnes and Noble’s website. The book is also available as an e-book and can be downloaded to a Kindle in both black and white and color.

I hope the book will be an enjoyable source of both poetry and artwork for all readers and will serve as a reminder to Look at Something Beautiful Every Day!

Professor Jennifer Celeste Person

Adjunct Instructor, English Department