Celebrating Maya Angelou’s Birthday

Maya Angelou Garden Party Podcast Flyer

Due to growing concerns regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus during Spring 2020, the Garden party did not take place in person. Although this news was disheartening to many, we chose to transition the programming into a pre-recorded podcast. We appreciate everyone’s patience during that time, and hope to honor Dr. Angelou with this new form of the Garden Party!

2020 Maya Angelou
Garden Party Podcast

Apple Podcast



2020 Garden Party Podcast Speaker Bios

Daniel Oberti, Wake Forest Fellow in the Office of Wake Downtown

Daniel Oberti

Role: Speaker, Creator/Editor

Bio: Daniel Oberti is a graduate of Wake Forest University (’19), and currently serves as the Wake Forest Fellow in the Office of Wake Downtown. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, he is now a proud member of the Winston-Salem Community. He was excited to create and edit this Garden Party Podcast for all the enjoy as one of the final acts of his Fellowship. He chose to read Alone by Maya Angelou to emphasize how we all depend on each other to survive, and if we embrace the humanity in all we will never be alone.

Dori Colly, Video Speaker

Dori Colly

Role: MC, Speaker

Bio:  This year’s Garden Party Podcast MC is Dr. Angelou’s Great Niece, Dori Colly. Dori is a Human Family member, global citizen, lifelong learner. A Mother, sister, niece, daughter & granddaughter. An Autism awareness advocate, urban gardener and member of SGI-USA. And She is Committed to leaving this world more inclusive for future generations. Dori Currently resides in the Historic Boston-Thurmond neighborhood of WS/NC.

Mike Silver, Podcast Reader

Mike Silver

Role: Speaker

Bio: Hello, my name is Mike Silver. I am an administrative law judge for the State of North Carolina and I am a 2020 candidate for District Court Judge in Forsyth County. I chose to read Angelou’s “On the Pulse of Morning” because I remember watching her read this poem with my parents when Bill Clinton was inaugurated President of the United States in 1993.

Piece Read: On the Pulse of Morning by Maya Angelou

Samantha Smart, Speaker

Samantha Smart

Role: Speaker

Bio: Samantha Smart is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University (’20) and is from Cape Coral, Florida. She chose this poem because it represented a big breakthrough in her perspective of someone who was different from her.

Piece Read: Figurines and Broken Dreams by Samantha Smart

Brenna M. Casey, Speaker

Brenna M. Casey

Role: Speaker

Bio: Brenna M. Casey is a writer and educator who lives in Durham, NC. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest University. Brenna holds a Ph.D. in English from Duke University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame. You can read her poems and essays in Public Books, Bitch, Hyperallergic, and Ploughshares. She chose the poem Thickly Settled: A Poem Begun in August which was published last year in The Boiler.

Piece Read: Thickly Settled: A Poem Begun in August by Brenna M. Casey

Malik Yarber, Speaker

Malik Yarber

Role: Speaker

Bio: Malik Yarber is a poet, faith advocate, song writer and author who has been preforming spoken word around the state of North Carolina for the last decade. Malik has two published books  “Poetry form an Interesting Place” and  “The Joy of Empathy”. The poem “This Pen” explores how freedom and fulfillment can be obtained through the gift of writing.

Piece Read: This Pen by Malik Yarber 

Marybeth Sutton Wallace

Role: Speaker

Bio: Marybeth Sutton Wallace is a graduate of Wake Forest University, where she works as special assistant to the president and directs the Wake Forest Fellows Program in Winston-Salem.

Ashley Harris, Speaker

Ashley Harris

Role: Speaker

Bio: My name is Ashley Harris and I am the author of “If the Hero of Time was black”.  I am also an aspiring medical professional and graduate student in the Masters in Biomedical Sciences program at Wake Forest School of Medicine. I wrote this poem because I notice that many discussions on racial disparities in medicine are not addressed. Instead of explaining them, and how they are historical and ongoing, they are simply placed under the sentence “black people don’t trust the medical field”

Piece Read: The US is still sick by Ashley Harris

Lily Walter, Speaker

Lily Walter

Role: Speaker

Bio: I’m Lily Walter, a former demon deac (‘19), and one of the reasons I originally chose Wake was because of Maya Angelou. She was one of my favorite poets and authors, and this poem, like everything she did, was so simple, elegant, and beautiful. It speaks so gracefully of the trans formative power of love, something all of us need to lean into in this moment in time.

Piece Read: Touched by an Angel by Maya Angelou  

Matthew Ayocock, Speaker

Matthew Aycock

Role: Speaker

Bio: Matthew Aycock was a student of Dr. Maya Angelou as an undergraduate at Wake Forest University (‘11).  Born and raised in Raleigh, Matt recently returned to Raleigh from Spain where he has lived since receiving a Fulbright scholarship from the U.S. State Department in 2016.  Currently he works for Equality North Carolina, the largest LGBTQ rights organization in the state.  Matt holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Wake Forest and a Master of International Education from Universidad de Alcalá in Madrid, Spain.  Today Matt chose to read Conscientious Objector by Edna St. Vincent Millay一one of Dr. Angelou’s favorite poems that she taught in her “World Poetry in Dramatic Performance” class.

Piece Read: Conscientious Objector by Edna St. Vincent Millay  

L. Lamar Wilson, Speaker

Dr. L. Lamar Wilson

Role: Speaker

Bio: L. Lamar Wilson teaches creative writing and literature at Wake Forest University and The Mississippi University for Women. His documentary poetics has been featured in two poetry collections, a stage production, and a film: Sacrilegion (Carolina Wren Press, 2013); Prime (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014); The Gospel Truth (2017); and The Changing Same (PBS/POV Shorts, 2019), a documentary co-produced with Rada Film Group.

Piece Read:  “To a Man” and “Sepia Fashion Show” by Maya Angelou  

Aileen Imana, Speaker

Aileen Imana

Role: Speaker

Bio: I am Aileen Imana, Mom, author of I Got Issues, licensed clinical mental health counselor and Buddhist practitioner. WFU (‘17) MA in Counseling. I am local in the Winston-Salem Community and podcaster of We All Got Issues Podcast. I am also a Mindful Wake Buddhist representing Soka Gakki International USA (SGI-USA)  IG:@weallgotissuespodcast and @aileenimana

Piece Read: Immortal Butterfly by Aileen Imana

Dr. Ed Wilson, Speaker

Dr. Ed Wilson

Bio: Edwin Graves Wilson (b. February 1, 1923), known affectionately as “Mr. Wake Forest,” is Professor Emeritus of English and Provost Emeritus for Wake Forest University. Wilson was born in Leaksville, North Carolina and began classes at Wake Forest at age 16. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.A (1943) in English and after graduation, he served as a U.S. Naval officer on a destroyer escort during World War II. Post-war, he received his A.M. (1948) and Ph.D (1952) in English from Harvard University. Wilson returned to his alma mater as an Instructor in English, and was named Professor of English (1959). A skilled and articulate teacher, Dr. Wilson focused on the British Romantic poets, such as William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, and others as well as the poetry of William Blake, William Butler Yeats, and Dylan Thomas.

Piece Read: Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou

Media Sources in the Podcast!

World Book Club – Maya Angelou

Type: Podcast
Presenter: Harriett Gilbert
Date: October 7, 2015
Publisher: BBC

Description: Maya Angelou answers listeners questions about her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

BBC World Book Club Podcast Cover

what it takes – Maya Angelou: Righteousness and Love

Type: Podcast
Presenter: Alice Winkler
Date: December 19th, 2016
Publisher: Academy of Achievement

Description: In this episode you’ll hear that iconic voice, in interviews, speeches and conversations, and be reminded why she was one of the most inspiring figures of the past century.

what it takes podcast cover of Dr. Angelou

Desert Island Discs: Maya Angelou

Type: Podcast
Presenter: Michael Parkinson
Date: 1987
Publisher: BBC Radio

Description: Maya Angelou inherited her love of music from her grandmother, who used to sing to her as a child at the family home in the southern United States. The first volume of her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was a bestseller, describing her life as singer, actress, stripper, dancer and writer. In conversation with Michael Parkinson, she looks back on a remarkable career and chooses eight records she would take to the mythical island.

Desert Island Discs 1986-1991 Podcast Cover


Type: Song
Artist: Pharrell Williams
Album: Hidden Figures
Time: min 5:02-6:08

Hidden Figures the Album

Georgia on My Mind

Type: Song
Artist: Ray Charles
Album: Live at l’Olympia
Time: min 11:21-13:33

Ray Charles Live at l'Olympia cover

Mambo in Africa

Type: Song
Artist: Maya Angelou
Album: Miss Calypso
Time: min 18:54-20:11

Maya Angelou Miss Calypso Album Cover

Killing Me Softly with His Song

Type: Song
Artist: Roberta Flack
Album: Killing Me Softly
Time: min 23:28-25:05

Killing Me Softly Robert Flack Album cover


Type: Song
Artist: Alicia Keys
Album: As I Am (Expanded Edition)
Time: min 48:17-52:41

As I Am Album Cover Alicia Keys