Newswise — Poet and National Book Award winner Nikky Finney is available to discuss the life and legacy of poet and author Maya Angelou with reporters. Finney is the John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair of Southern Literature and Creative Writing at the University of South Carolina.

Finney says:

“Miss Maya led us with her brilliance for half a century. She didn't suffer fools lightly. She studied us human beings and the English language passionately. She never let us off the hook with our many modern excuses. She was a walking encyclopedia of who we were and who we needed to be. She could tell and sing a story in the same sweet dazzling breath. It didn't matter who or what you were when she walked in the room even the silverware got quiet. She was a queen. She was majestic. She was our great humanitarian. She taught me so many things about surviving, struggling, and the resilience of the human heart. In this moment of stunning loss it feels like a great human library has burned to the ground.”