I am trying to remember how I got interested in Maya Angelou – I am guessing that it was Oprah. I think Oprah was interviewing Ms Angelou and they were talking about her book ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. Being curious about literature and wanting to read new (as in new to me) things I got the book.
I remember being shook after reading it. It was hard for me to fathom that this was someone’s life since it was so far from my own. It opened my eyes to a lot of different issues: race, poverty, rape. And that’s what good books do, right? It’s also an uplifting story in a sense that the main character finds a way out through writing and love of literature.
And not for nothing, it’s one of the few books I’ve read multiple times.
Then there is ‘Phenomenal Woman’ – I mean, that poem blew me away. Poetry is something that felt foreign to me in terms of understanding it. This was one of the first poems that I read and went – wait, this is for me. I can see myself here:
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
I mean, seriously. For a young woman (me) who was trying to find her way in the world, and felt on the outside of being traditionally beautiful – this poem hit me at the right time and in the right place. I could be strong and powerful and not be a size 2. Who knew? Maya Angelou did. She was one wise lady.
That is my Maya Angelou story. I know that she had a huge impact on many, many others by telling her story – I think she was a very brave, and wise woman.
Also, if you have a spare moment, stop on the google doodle today – your soul will thank me.