Monday, September 22, 2014

OctPoWriMo 2014 - A Tribute to Maya Angelou

Photo Credit:  Kuba Bożanowski

Back in May of this year, the world lost a legend. Maya Angelou was known around the globe as a writer, a poet, an advocate for women, and a civil rights activist. She was still touring and giving public lectures well into her eighties. It is with deep regret that I admit to missing her appearance in my city less than a year before her passing. Her poetry paints a beautiful picture of a life of overcoming, a life of strength in the face of adversity, a life of finding incredible joy in simple moments. 

Years ago, I was teaching creative movement classes to high school students. One of the assignments that I gave to my advanced class was to select a poem and either find a recording of it or record a read of it themselves, then choreograph movement inspired by the poem. The most memorable outcome of that assignment was done by a young lady who chose to work alone rather than with a group (an option that I did allow) and she selected the poem "Phenomenal Woman" as her accompaniment. The pairing of Maya's powerful words as the backdrop for the raw beauty in the movements during the presentation inspire me still to this day.

Here are those inspiring words once again:

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.
I say,
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
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me. 

~ Maya Angelou

8 days and counting! Are you ready to write with us?

~Amy McGrath

1 comment:

  1. I love Maya Angelou. When I began writing (and began getting into) poetry as a pre-teen, Maya was one of the first poets that I would read. I still have the books that I had "borrowed" from my aunt all those years ago. The performance that your student(s) had given along with Phenomenal Women sounds like a great performance to watch. The thought of it sounds as inspiring as you had mentioned. :-) - Leslye


Your words feed the hearts of the poets who lovingly volunteer to share their passion for poetry with you.

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