Galway Kinnell

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The late Pulitzer Prize–winning poet is seen here in 1997 reading selections of his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego for the series “Artists on the Cutting Edge,” accompanied by interview segments discussing his influences. The former Vermont poet laureate died at his home in Sheffield, Vermont, this past Tuesday.

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Maya Angelou Remembered

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“This is not a rehearsal. This is your life.” Maya Angelou is the author of more than thirty books, including her influential memoir of the Jim Crow South, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She received numerous awards throughout her lifetime, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was presented to her by President Obama in 2011. Angelou died at the age of eighty-six in 2014. A rare figure whose work was both scholarly and accessible, Angelou was undeniably inspiring.

Wanda Coleman

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“Do you know what it feels like to wait for your son to come home alive every night?" Award-winning poet Wanda Coleman, often called the “unofficial Poet Laureate of L.A.,” died Friday at the age of sixty-seven. Coleman’s book of poetry Mercurochrome was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001. In this clip from May 2013, she reads at California State University.

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Big Sur

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Watch this recent movie trailer for Big Sur, based on Jack Kerouac’s novel of the same name, which chronicles the beatnik author’s transition from a rebellious and reluctantly famous young man into an emotionally troubled adult. The book debuted in 1962; Jack Kerouac, born in 1922, died in 1969, only seven years after its publication.

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Doris Lessing

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Renowned author Doris Lessing—who wrote notable novels such as The Grass Is Singing, The Golden Notebook, and The Good Terrorist and won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature—died on November 17, 2013 at age ninety-four. Watch this BBC News video that reflects on her colorful personality, prolific writing career, and occasionally controversial life.

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Vanishing Act

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“How nice it is to disappear, float into a mist.” Musician and poet Lou Reed died on Sunday at the age of seventy-one. In this video, he recites the haunting and timely lyrics to “Vanishing Act.”

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