Catalogue


The heart of a woman /
Maya Angelou.
imprint
New York, NY : Bantam Books, 1982.
description
324 p.
ISBN
0553380095
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York, NY : Bantam Books, 1982.
isbn
0553380095
catalogue key
11921220
A Look Inside
First Chapter
The Harlem Writer's Guild was meeting at John's house, and my palms were sweating and my tongue was thick.  The loosely formed organization, without  dues or membership cards, had one strict rule: any invited guest could sit in  for three meetings, but thereafter, the visitor had to read from his or her  work in progress.  My time had come.

Sara Wright and Sylvester Leeks  stood in a corner talking softly.  John Clarke was staring at titles in the  bookcase.  Mary Delaney and Millie Jordan were giving their coats to Grace  and exchanging greetings.  The other writers were already seated around the  living room in a semicircle.

John Killens walked past me, touching my  shoulder, took his seat and called the meeting to order.

"O.K.,  everybody.  Let's start." Chairs scraped the floor and the sounds  reverberated in my armpits.  "As you know, our newest member, our California  singer, is going to read from her new play.  What's the title,  Maya?"

"One Love, One Life."  My usually deep voice leaked out  high-pitched and weak.

A writer asked how many acts the play had.  I  answered again in the piping voice, "So far only one."

Everyone  laughed; they thought I was making a joke.

"If everyone is ready, we  can begin." John picked up his note pad.  There was a loud rustling as the  writers prepared to take notes.

I read the character and set  description despite the sudden perversity of my body.  The blood pounded in  my ears but not enough to drown the skinny sound of my voice.  My hands shook  so that I had to lay the pages in my lap, but that was not a good solution  due to the tricks my knees were playing.  They lifted voluntarily, pulling my  heels off the floor and then trembled like disturbed Jello.  Before I  launched into the play's action, I looked around at the writers expecting but  hoping not to see their amusement at my predicament.  Their faces were  studiously blank.  Within a year, I was to learn that each had a horror story  about a first reading at the Harlem Writers Guild.

Time wrapped itself  around every word, slowing me.  I couldn't force myself to read faster. The  pages seemed to be multiplying even as I was trying to reduce them.  The play  was dull, the characters, unreal, and the dialogue was taken entirely off the  back of a Campbell's soup can.  I knew this was my first and last time at the  Guild.  Even if I hadn't the grace to withdraw voluntarily, I was certain the  members had a method of separating the wheat from the chaff.

"The End."  At last.

The members laid their notes down beside their chairs  and a few got up to use the toilets.  No one spoke.  Even as I read I knew  the drama was bad, but maybe someone would have lied a little.

The  room filled.  Only the whispering of papers shifting told me that the jury  was ready.

John Henrik Clarke, a taut little man from the South,  cleared his throat.  If he was to be the first critic, I knew I would receive  the worst sentence.  John Clarke was famous in the group for his keen  intelligence and bitter wit.  He had supposedly once told the FBI that they  were wrong to think that he would sell out his home state of Georgia; he adde

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