A phenomenal woman indeed…
Today is special because Marguerite Ann Johnson, better known as Dr. Maya Angelou, turns 85. In elementary school, everyone learns about the infamous poet as well as many other historic black figures, but I’ve always enjoyed learning about Dr. Angelou. When I was in the ninth grade (back in 2006 lol), I did a report on her and finding out even more about her and her journey was such an inspiration to me. She has overcome a life filled with hardship after hardship. From being abused and raped by her mother’s boyfriend at the tender age of eight which resulted in her becoming mute for five years because she believed as she has stated, “I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone …” Her mother’s boyfriend was arrested and put in jail, but only for one day and then four days later, he was murdered. In silence, her love for poetry and literature developed.
She even had an interesting list of occupations. Let’s run down the list: pimp, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, author, journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization, and actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs.
She has even inspired me to take pride in my own poetry. I started writing when I was in the fourth grade and have been writing ever since. I’ll admit that these days I don’t write as much as I used to, but it’s not because I don’t want to — I just can never really find the time. I feel like there is just never really enough time in the day, but that’s probably a lame excuse. Maya Angelou found the time to write and publish six autobiographies, five books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. Just another reason she is a source of inspiration for me.
I’ve always said that I wanted to publish my own book of poetry. It’ll happen one day though.
I think that Dr. Maya Angelou is just the epitome of grace, class, wisdom and so much more. She’s even fashionable. Her poetry is known around the world and she has influenced so many people. With her distinctive voice and powerful words, it’s hard not be cast under her poetic spell. She is definitely my favorite poet. If I had to choose, I would probably say that my favorite poem from Dr. Angelou would be (yup, you guessed it!) Phenomenal Woman.
Here’s an excerpt:
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Happy Birthday Dr. Angelou!
“While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.” – Dr. Maya Angelou