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Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry

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From her reflections on African American life and hardship in Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie to her revolutionary celebrations of womanhood in Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise, and her elegant tributes to dignitaries Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela (On the Pulse of Morning and His Day Is Done, respectively), every inspiring word of Maya Angelou's poetry From her reflections on African American life and hardship in Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie to her revolutionary celebrations of womanhood in Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise, and her elegant tributes to dignitaries Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela (On the Pulse of Morning and His Day Is Done, respectively), every inspiring word of Maya Angelou's poetry is included in the pages of this volume.


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From her reflections on African American life and hardship in Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie to her revolutionary celebrations of womanhood in Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise, and her elegant tributes to dignitaries Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela (On the Pulse of Morning and His Day Is Done, respectively), every inspiring word of Maya Angelou's poetry From her reflections on African American life and hardship in Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie to her revolutionary celebrations of womanhood in Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise, and her elegant tributes to dignitaries Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela (On the Pulse of Morning and His Day Is Done, respectively), every inspiring word of Maya Angelou's poetry is included in the pages of this volume.

30 review for Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    What is it like to be a woman of colour with brilliant intellectual and linguistic power? Is it a blessing, is it a curse, is it both at the same time? Isn't it just being human, in the end? Maya Angelou's poems have accompanied my teaching for a very long time. Her direct, honest words fit any human rights discussions, any debates on racism and misogyny, any reflections on the distribution of wealth and power, privilege and entitlement. Her hopes and fears, her dreams and nightmares are the stu What is it like to be a woman of colour with brilliant intellectual and linguistic power? Is it a blessing, is it a curse, is it both at the same time? Isn't it just being human, in the end? Maya Angelou's poems have accompanied my teaching for a very long time. Her direct, honest words fit any human rights discussions, any debates on racism and misogyny, any reflections on the distribution of wealth and power, privilege and entitlement. Her hopes and fears, her dreams and nightmares are the stuff that humans are made on. She gives everyday life an artistically powerful voice, speaking loudly and confidently from the corner of society that unfortunately still remains invisible or indifferent to those in power. But Maya Angelou is more than just a writer speaking for those without words of their own. She celebrates love, anger, sadness, community and loneliness from the perspective of individual experience, putting a specific, unique person in focus rather than an underprivileged group. She finds beauty in self-confidence rather than prettiness, in effort rather than accomplishment, in dreams rather than status. Hers is a world that CAN BE - if you believe in yourself. I will let her speak for herself, and hope her words help those of us who turned out a bit shy, or short, or insecure, or invisible, or overlooked, to grow an inch while reading: "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 Phenomenally. 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 Phenomenally. 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 Phenomenally. 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 Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me." That's her. She's phenomenal.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    What I like about poetry is that it is never completely "read". Like the Akshaya Patra ("Inexhaustible Vessel") in the Indian Epic Mahabharata, which keeps on delivering food no matter how many times one approaches it, a poetry book will keep on supplying food for the intellect. In every new reading of a favourite poem, you will find something fresh to appreciate. I read this book by Maya Angelou after I finished the first part of her biography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, because I was impr What I like about poetry is that it is never completely "read". Like the Akshaya Patra ("Inexhaustible Vessel") in the Indian Epic Mahabharata, which keeps on delivering food no matter how many times one approaches it, a poetry book will keep on supplying food for the intellect. In every new reading of a favourite poem, you will find something fresh to appreciate. I read this book by Maya Angelou after I finished the first part of her biography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, because I was impressed by her boldness and candour. Maya does not try to gloss over the fact that she's black: she embraces it, along with all the distressing historical baggage that comes with it. Africa Thus she had lain sugarcane sweet deserts her hair golden her feet mountains her breasts two Niles her tears. Thus she has lain Black through the years. Over the white seas rime white and cold brigands ungentled icicle bold took her young daughters sold her strong sons churched her with Jesus bled her with guns. Thus she has lain. Now she is rising remember her pain remember the losses her screams loud and vain remember her riches her history slain now she is striding although she had lain. This is remembrance with a vengeance. The past, with it tales of violence, rapes, lynchings and mutilations is not forgotten, neither is it used as force of blind hatred and revenge. It is absorbed and sublimated in the psyche. What is celebrated here is the endurance of a race forced to live for untold years without even the basic dignity afforded to any human being - their humanity. Song for the Old Ones My Fathers sit on benches their flesh counts every plank the slats leave dents of darkness deep in their withered flanks. They nod like broken candles all waxed and burnt profound they say “It's understanding that makes the world go round.” There in those pleated faces I see the auction block the chains and slavery's coffles the whip and lash and stock. My Fathers speak in voices that shred my fact and sound they say “It's our submission that makes the world go round.” They used the finest cunning their naked wits and wiles the lowly Uncle Tomming and Aunt Jemimas’ smiles. They've laughed to shield their crying then shuffled through their dreams and stepped ‘n’ fetched a country to write the blues with screams. I understand their meaning it could and did derive from living on the edge of death They kept my race alive. The race is kept alive by the resilience of a people who refuse to break. As the woman in the poem "Our Grandmothers" says: Centered on the world's stage, she sings to her loves and beloveds, to her foes and detractors: However I am perceived and deceived, however my ignorance and conceits, lay aside your fears that I will be undone, for I shall not be moved. This is the power of silent resistance, of suffering converted to strength. This is what empowered Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. And when it's combined with an unapologetic and fiercely sexual femininity, it becomes almost too hot to handle. Phenomenal Woman 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 Phenomenally. 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 Phenomenally. 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 Phenomenally. 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 for my care. ‘Cause I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me. This phenomenal woman who represents all of Africa also has a bone to pick with her white sister: of traumas passed down through the generations from myth to the present age, which must be exorcised like dust slowly filling ruts on the road of history. Family Affairs You let down, from arched Windows, Over hand-cut stones of your Cathedrals, seas of golden hair. While I, pulled by dusty braids, Left furrows in the Sands of African beaches. Princes and commoners Climbed over waves to reach Your vaulted boudoirs, As the sun, capriciously, Struck silver fire from waiting Chains, where I was bound. My screams never reached The rare tower where you Lay, birthing masters for My sons, and for my Daughters, a swarm of Unclean badgers, to consume Their history. Tired now of pedestal existence For fear of flying And vertigo, you descend And step lightly over My centuries of horror And take my hand, Smiling, call me Sister. Sister, accept That I must wait a While. Allow an age Of dust to fill Ruts left on my Beach in Africa. Ultimately, among all the poems contained here, it was old man Willie who really captivated me. Willie Willie was a man without fame, Hardly anybody knew his name. Crippled and limping, always walking lame, He said, “I keep on movin’ Movin’ just the same.” Solitude was the climate in his head, Emptiness was the partner in his bed, Pain echoed in the steps of his tread, He said, “I keep on followin’ Where the leaders led. “I may cry and I will die, But my spirit is the soul of every spring, Watch for me and you will see That I'm present in the songs that children sing.” People called him “Uncle,” “Boy” and “Hey,” Said, “You can't live through this another day.” Then, they waited to hear what he would say. He said, “I'm living In the games that children play. “You may enter my sleep, people my dreams, Threaten my early morning's ease, But I keep comin’ followin’ laughin’ cryin', Sure as a summer breeze. “Wait for me, watch for me. My spirit is the surge of open seas. Look for me, ask for me, I'm the rustle in the autumn leaves. “When the sun rises I am the time. When the children sing I am the Rhyme.” He stands there with his toothless smile, not only in America, but all over the world, wherever the misery of one class feeds the luxury of another. His smile seems idiotic to shallow minds. Only the perceptive can understand that it actually carries a timeless wisdom.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hirdesh

    Lovely poetry. I've just loved throughout all poems encrypted so greatly with deep emotions. An incredible piece of poems. What a catastrophic selection of words. Some Good lines- "I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike" "I note the obvious differences in the human family. Some of us are serious, some thrive on comedy" "Life is too busy, wearying me. Questions and answers and heavy thought. I've subtracted and added and multiplied, Lovely poetry. I've just loved throughout all poems encrypted so greatly with deep emotions. An incredible piece of poems. What a catastrophic selection of words. Some Good lines- "I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike" "I note the obvious differences in the human family. Some of us are serious, some thrive on comedy" "Life is too busy, wearying me. Questions and answers and heavy thought. I've subtracted and added and multiplied, and all my figuring has come to naught. Today I'll give up living." "My life ain't heaven but it sure ain't hell. I'm not on top but I call it swell if I'm able to work and get paid right and have the luck to be Black on a Saturday night" "If they want to learn how to live life right, they ought to study me on Saturday night" "You said to lean on Your arm And I'm leaning You said to trust in Your love And I'm trusting You said to call on Your name And I'm calling I'm stepping out on Your word. You said You'd be my protection, My only and glorious saviour, My beautiful Rose of Sharon, And I'm stepping out on Your word. Your word. Joy Joy The wonderful word of the Son of God." "When you see me walking, stumbling, Don't study and get it wrong. 'Cause tired don't mean lazy And every goodbye ain't gone. I'm the same person I was back then, A little less hair, a little less chin, A lot less lungs and much less wind. But ain't I lucky I can still breathe in." "Black like the hour of the night When your love turns and wriggles close to your side Black as the earth which has given birth To nations, and when all else is gone will abide" "Out of the huts of history's shame I rise Up from a past that's rooted in pain I rise I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide" "You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I'll rise" "When the sun rises I am the time. When the children sing I am the Rhyme." "Then you rose into my life Like a promised sunrise. Brightening my days with the light in your eyes. I've never been so strong, Now I'm where I belong" "Funky blues Keen toed shoes High water pants Saddy night dance Red soda water and anybody's daughter" "Thus she had lain sugarcane sweet deserts her hair golden her feet mountains her breasts two Niles her tears. Thus she has lain Black through the years." "Suits on Me All the people out of work, Hold for three, then twist and jerk. Cross the line, they count you out. That's what hopping's all about. Both feet flat, the game is done. They think I lost. I think I won" "They'd nasty manners, held like banners, while they looked down their nose-wise. I'd see 'em in hell, before they'd sell me one thing they're wearing, clothes-wise." "What a pity that pity has folded in upon itself an old man's mouth whose teeth are gone and I have no pity." "Where touch to touch is feel And life a weary whore I would be carried off, not gently To a shore, Where love is the scream of anguish And no curtain drapes the door." "I lost a doll once and cried for a week. She could open her eyes, and do all but speak. I believe she was took, by some doll-snatching sneak. I tell you, I hate to lose something."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brown Girl Reading

    I ordered this book the day I heard about the death of Maya Angelou. this beautiful hard cover book was delivered the very next day in which I dropped all of my other reading, The Good Lord Bird, to experience the world of poetry by Maya Angelou. What a wonderful book filled with some of her most popular poems like Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise, but also of lesser know poems which should have a place along side the popular ones. These poems are varied in themes about relationships, family, l I ordered this book the day I heard about the death of Maya Angelou. this beautiful hard cover book was delivered the very next day in which I dropped all of my other reading, The Good Lord Bird, to experience the world of poetry by Maya Angelou. What a wonderful book filled with some of her most popular poems like Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise, but also of lesser know poems which should have a place along side the popular ones. These poems are varied in themes about relationships, family, love, what it is to be a woman, always with a tinge of African-American culture. If you haven't read any of Maya Angelou's poems or you're just interested in reading outstanding, lyrical poetry this is a perfect place to start. I'd also suggest picking up this particular well made beautiful edition as a keepsake or as a gift for a poetry lover. I know I'll cherish mine dearly and will read it over and over again. James Baldwin said "You will hear the regal woman, the mischievous street girl; you will hear the price of a black woman's survival and you will hear of her generosity. Black, bitter,and beautiful, she speaks of our survival." (quoted from the inside flap of the book) It is a must read in American poetry!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard Cardenas

    Such a beautiful and heartfelt read. My favorite poem had to be Still I Rise, my favorite line being: "You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I'll rise." Maya is such an inspirational and captivating woman and I'm so happy to have read her some of her work. I plan to read more soon and have more of Maya in my life. :)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    His lidless eye slid sideways, and he rose into my deepest yearning, bringing gifts of ready rhythms, and hourly wound around my chest, holding me fast in taut security, Then, glistening like diamonds strewn upon a black girl's belly, he left me. And nothing remains. Beneath my left breast, two perfect identical punctures, through which I claim the air I breathe and the slithering sound of my own skin moving in the dark. **I've had this collection for three years and somehow at the end of each year, I've always His lidless eye slid sideways, and he rose into my deepest yearning, bringing gifts of ready rhythms, and hourly wound around my chest, holding me fast in taut security, Then, glistening like diamonds strewn upon a black girl's belly, he left me. And nothing remains. Beneath my left breast, two perfect identical punctures, through which I claim the air I breathe and the slithering sound of my own skin moving in the dark. **I've had this collection for three years and somehow at the end of each year, I've always revisited it and every year, I find something new in what I've already read. There's so much being addressed in this collection, so many spoken for, that it becomes much more than just a poetry collection.**

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anima

    Gentleness and roughness, beauty and ugliness, happiness and sorrow, brightness and darkness -what a bitter-sweet heart touching flow of words are all these poems! Remembering "Soft grey ghosts crawl up my sleeve to peer into my eyes while I within deny their threats and answer them with lies. Mushlike memories perform a ritual on my lips I lie in stolid hopelessness and they lay my soul in strips." Accident "Tonight when you spread your pallet of magic, I escaped. Sitting apart, I saw you grim an Gentleness and roughness, beauty and ugliness, happiness and sorrow, brightness and darkness -what a bitter-sweet heart touching flow of words are all these poems! Remembering "Soft grey ghosts crawl up my sleeve to peer into my eyes while I within deny their threats and answer them with lies. Mushlike memories perform a ritual on my lips I lie in stolid hopelessness and they lay my soul in strips." Accident "Tonight when you spread your pallet of magic, I escaped. Sitting apart, I saw you grim and unkempt. Your vulgarness not of living, your demands not from need. Tonight as you sprinkled your brain- dust of rainbows, I had no eyes. Seeing all I saw the colors fade and change. The blood, red dulled through the dyes, and the naked Black-White truth."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Actual rating, 3.7 stars. I loved most of the poems in this collection but a few of them just didn't click with me probably because I wasn't familiar with the sociocultural contexts within.

  9. 5 out of 5

    SheriC (PM)

    I rarely read poetry because I have difficulty connecting with it. But this collection, on audio, is performed by the author herself, and hearing it in her own voice is profoundly moving. It gave me the opportunity to experience some of her less widely known work. Some of my favorites: Sounds Like Pearls Poor Girl On Reaching Forty I was also delighted to hear her actually sing parts of several spirituals that were the inspiration for the poem she wrote for Clinton’s inauguration. Audiobook v I rarely read poetry because I have difficulty connecting with it. But this collection, on audio, is performed by the author herself, and hearing it in her own voice is profoundly moving. It gave me the opportunity to experience some of her less widely known work. Some of my favorites: Sounds Like Pearls Poor Girl On Reaching Forty I was also delighted to hear her actually sing parts of several spirituals that were the inspiration for the poem she wrote for Clinton’s inauguration. Audiobook version, on CD (ISBN 0375420177), that I purchased on a sale rack years ago. Looking it up online just now in hopes of getting some audio samples to link to, I was amazed at the prices, but it looks as though it’s commonly available at public libraries, per WorldCat. For the Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season book challenge, Task the Fifth: The Kwanzaa (Read a book written by an African-American author or set in an African country)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    There were a few poems and stanzas that really stood out to me, but in general I'm not a poetry person. I picked this up because it has "Still I Rise" in it and I absolutely fell in love with that poem my senior year of college. Some others that really stood out to me: "Take Time Out," especially: feel some sorrow for the folks who think tomorrow is a place that they can call up on the phone. Take a month and show some kindness for the folks who thought that blindness was an illness that affected eyes alone. There were a few poems and stanzas that really stood out to me, but in general I'm not a poetry person. I picked this up because it has "Still I Rise" in it and I absolutely fell in love with that poem my senior year of college. Some others that really stood out to me: "Take Time Out," especially: feel some sorrow for the folks who think tomorrow is a place that they can call up on the phone. Take a month and show some kindness for the folks who thought that blindness was an illness that affected eyes alone. From "Phenomenal Woman": 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 for my care. 'Cause I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sookie

    Some of my favorite lines.. - Of all the beautiful words she has penned, I cannot get this out of my head. Dawn offers Innocence to a half-mad city. -This one is just... This bed yawns beneath the weight of our absent selves. -And then we have this: Make room for me to lead and follow you beyond this rage of poetry. The poems she writes on black violence and black history is poignant and gut wrenching. This is a fantastic collection with most of her popular works collected in one place.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wanda Lea Brayton

    She came to my college to give a lecture. Unfortunately, as I was the night circulation supervisor in the library, I couldn't go. But - my favorite literature teacher, Helen Cullins Smith (who was the lady responsible for Ms. Angelou's coming) gave her the poem I'd been inspired to write...Helen came into the library the next day and gave me an announcement that Maya had signed...it said "Wanda Lea — Write On!" I'm still reading her works.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mariah

    Take the blinders from your vision, take the padding from your ears, and confess you’ve heard me crying, and admit you’ve seen my tears. Hear the tempo so compelling, hear the blood throb in my veins. Yes, my drums are beating nightly, and the rhythms never change. Equality, and I will be free.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    If you want wonder, beauty, insight, stimulation, inspiration, rhythm and rhyme, language that shines . . . then this one's for you. If you've never read Angelou, please do. If you've never seen a poet, a guru, a Goddess speak, please do. If you've never been inspired, enlivened by the spirit of humankind, that which goes beyond the bounds of the mundane, lifeless, work-a-day world, please do. Get this book, and as Red in Shawshank Redemption states, "You got to either get to living or get to dy If you want wonder, beauty, insight, stimulation, inspiration, rhythm and rhyme, language that shines . . . then this one's for you. If you've never read Angelou, please do. If you've never seen a poet, a guru, a Goddess speak, please do. If you've never been inspired, enlivened by the spirit of humankind, that which goes beyond the bounds of the mundane, lifeless, work-a-day world, please do. Get this book, and as Red in Shawshank Redemption states, "You got to either get to living or get to dying." Don't let the world take you down. Let Maya bring you up to the Mountain Top, to the celestial possibilities inherent in all man-woman kind. Amen!

  15. 5 out of 5

    andy

    Breathe, Brother, and displace a moment’s hate with organized love. Still I Rise is one of my favorite poems. Watch her reciting it here, it will melt your heart: https://youtu.be/qviM_GnJbOM Breathe, Brother, and displace a moment’s hate with organized love. Still I Rise is one of my favorite poems. Watch her reciting it here, it will melt your heart: https://youtu.be/qviM_GnJbOM

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Maya Angelou writes with rhythm, verve, anger, celebration, sexiness. Her poetry is measured, balanced, and rhymed, and it carries the music of her spirit. Whether defiant, empowering, confrontational, sensual, or accepting, each poem is an anthem. Personal favourites include Caged Bird, Preacher Don't Send Me, On Working White Liberals, Still I Rise, and Equality. Equality You declare you see me dimly through a glass which will not shine, though I stand before you boldly, trim in rank and marking Maya Angelou writes with rhythm, verve, anger, celebration, sexiness. Her poetry is measured, balanced, and rhymed, and it carries the music of her spirit. Whether defiant, empowering, confrontational, sensual, or accepting, each poem is an anthem. Personal favourites include Caged Bird, Preacher Don't Send Me, On Working White Liberals, Still I Rise, and Equality. Equality You declare you see me dimly through a glass which will not shine, though I stand before you boldly, trim in rank and marking time. You do own to hear me faintly as a whisper out of range, while my drums beat out the message and the rhythms never change. Equality, and I will be free. Equality, and I will be free. You announce my ways are wanton, that I fly from man to man, but if I'm just a shadow to you, could you ever understand? We have lived a painful history, we know the shameful past, but I keep on marching forward, and you keep on coming last. Equality, and I will be free. Equality, and I will be free. Take the blinders from your vision, take the padding from your ears, and confess you've heard me crying, and admit you've seen my tears. Hear the tempo so compelling, hear the blood throb in my veins. Yes, my drums are beating nightly, and the rhythms never change. Equality, and I will be free. Equality, and I will be free.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alena

    I hold Maya Angelou as an icon in my mind, a source of wisdom and grace. This collection also reminds me that she was a brilliantly passionate, even angry, black woman. I was sometimes uncomfortable, often moved, driven to read lines two or three times and always, always in awe. That's good poetry. Plus, my very favorite Angelou one-liner: Does my sassiness upset you?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia

    A beautiful collection of poems by the wonderful and amazing poet, the late Maya Angelou. There is really nothing else that needs said.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    Maya Angelou's presence overpowers her writing for me. I've only seen a handful of film interviews and readings, but her voice, delivery, and sheer persona are electric. Thus, having the words stripped of this physical presence felt a bit like a letdown. You can't really hold that against a writer. This is a lot of poetry packed in to one volume and it felt like the quantity watered down the quality of more than a handful of true gems (which probably could be said of mostly any large "complete" Maya Angelou's presence overpowers her writing for me. I've only seen a handful of film interviews and readings, but her voice, delivery, and sheer persona are electric. Thus, having the words stripped of this physical presence felt a bit like a letdown. You can't really hold that against a writer. This is a lot of poetry packed in to one volume and it felt like the quantity watered down the quality of more than a handful of true gems (which probably could be said of mostly any large "complete" collection of a poet). The rhythm and subject matter of her writing appealed most to me--there's a kind of tireless fight for the freedom of the spirit, equality, and the recognition of individual humanity and dignity. She was a writer who knew the kind of world she wanted to fashion with her words and believed those words could make a better world. And this volume lets you see that world through the eyes of a young, passionate woman on through to the wise, American elder she became. A few favorites: "London" (I couldn't find an online version to copy and paste or link to.) ---------------------------------- Maya Angelou performing "The Mask" (I don't believe this one is actually in the book.) ---------------------------------- Some Kind of love, Some Say Is it true the ribs can tell The kick of a beast from a Lover’s fist? The bruised Bones recorded well The sudden shock, the Hard impact. Then swollen lids, Sorry eyes, spoke not Of lost romance, but hurt. Hate often is confused. Its Limits are in zones beyond itself. And Sadists will not learn that Love, by nature, exacts a pain Unequalled on the rack. ---------------------------------- Human Family I note the obvious differences in the human family. Some of us are serious, some thrive on comedy. Some declare their lives are lived as true profundity, and others claim they really live the real reality. The variety of our skin tones can confuse, bemuse, delight, brown and pink and beige and purple, tan and blue and white. I've sailed upon the seven seas and stopped in every land, I've seen the wonders of the world not yet one common man. I know ten thousand women called Jane and Mary Jane, but I've not seen any two who really were the same. Mirror twins are different although their features jibe, and lovers think quite different thoughts while lying side by side. We love and lose in China, we weep on England's moors, and laugh and moan in Guinea, and thrive on Spanish shores. We seek success in Finland, are born and die in Maine. In minor ways we differ, in major we're the same. I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Guzman

    I love Maya Angelou and was so sad when she past away. I don't read poetry usually but loved Maya Angelou's work and loved hearing her when she recited her work. While reading this I could image Ms. Angelou reciting it in her beautiful deep voice that had so much character to it. A range of subjects from rights of a people a gender to spiritual beliefs. Beautiful!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ankit Solanki

    Since the beginning of the collective conscience of mankind, even before we discovered how to write and read, humans have always expressed feelings in the form of words flowing in rhythm or should I say poetry. Maya Angelou has a sense of sudden sentimental tenderness, her words will make you part of the situation within a second. Her poem doesn't consist of words, it consists of a manipulative stream of soft strokes. This book engulfs a complete collection of her poems and it has been absolutely Since the beginning of the collective conscience of mankind, even before we discovered how to write and read, humans have always expressed feelings in the form of words flowing in rhythm or should I say poetry. Maya Angelou has a sense of sudden sentimental tenderness, her words will make you part of the situation within a second. Her poem doesn't consist of words, it consists of a manipulative stream of soft strokes. This book engulfs a complete collection of her poems and it has been absolutely brilliant. Her poem collection "Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie" and "Still I Rise" are an elegant piece of art. I feel really sensible after reading her work. I think I am gonna write a blog about it. I personally and gratefully thank Maya Angelou for writing these amazing short poems and sharing with us. I hope for her a peaceful afterlife.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nilay

    The first poem I read of Maya Angelou was in Global Literature in 10th grade, when we read "Phenomenal Woman." The powerful literary devices used, especially repetition, made it one of my favorite poems. I was happy when I saw the same poem in this collection of Angelou's poems. The book contains poems on a variety of topics, but I believe Angelou is a feminist writer, and therefore writes poems empowering women. She also includes unforgettable poems that rhyme, deal with past family issues, and The first poem I read of Maya Angelou was in Global Literature in 10th grade, when we read "Phenomenal Woman." The powerful literary devices used, especially repetition, made it one of my favorite poems. I was happy when I saw the same poem in this collection of Angelou's poems. The book contains poems on a variety of topics, but I believe Angelou is a feminist writer, and therefore writes poems empowering women. She also includes unforgettable poems that rhyme, deal with past family issues, and capture the ongoing problems of society.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Although I have read many, if not all her prose autobiographies, I discovered through this poetry that I did not know Maya Angelou at all. She was far more passionate, sensual and angry than I expected. Some poems were marvelous some I really did not understand and it was an education to read them all.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    I don't own many poetry books, but this is one of the few and a rare jewel among them. My favorite poem is I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, since it's meaning is different for whoever reads it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pink

    Some good, some bad. Or maybe it was more a case of some okay, some bloody amazing. I'd recommend reading those from 'And Still I Rise' and go from there.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mayra

    *Favorite poems: In a Time Alone Africa Song for the Old Ones Phenomenal Woman Still I Rise A Good Woman Feeling Bad Unmeasured Tempo Caged Bird Weekend Glory Prescience

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Angelou is a first-rate autobiographer, and a mediocre poet, though a fine aloudreader and stage presence in an era when even Obama's first inaugural poet had no idea how to aloudread her own poem. Angelou fulfills the limited popular American (Romantic) idea of a poet--one who talks, ad infinitum, about oneself and one's problems (or in Angelou's case, problems over which she triumphs*). We are still stuck in the Romantic period, two centuries after Wordsworth and Coleridge (then Keats and She Angelou is a first-rate autobiographer, and a mediocre poet, though a fine aloudreader and stage presence in an era when even Obama's first inaugural poet had no idea how to aloudread her own poem. Angelou fulfills the limited popular American (Romantic) idea of a poet--one who talks, ad infinitum, about oneself and one's problems (or in Angelou's case, problems over which she triumphs*). We are still stuck in the Romantic period, two centuries after Wordsworth and Coleridge (then Keats and Shelley and Byron) first started writing poems about themselves. Chaucer didn't. Shakespeare didn't in his plays, and in the sonnets, he gives a stage version of "self." Moliere didn't. Dryden didn't. Austen didn't. Dickens didn't really, even in Copperfield (a very dif feel from what his childhood must have felt like). The list goes on. Arguably, poets have the least interesting of lives, if they have the time and place to write. Not as interesting as a plumber's life, even--though I have known one good plumber-poet. The most interesting lives--say, a teenager in Mali, a refugee in Syria, a Parisian Jew at the start of WWII--are often too overwhelming to write well about, in the midst. Hemingway determined that all 20C writers would have to try to live "exciting" lives, in order to write about them. Poets don't bother. They find themselves endlessly interesting, though nobody else does. In Angelou's case, she combines sentimentality (Give me a cool drink of water 'fore I die...) with a triumphant tone of overcoming which always signals Public Relations. Then she adds a supcon of platitudes, like "one thing I cry for / ..believe in enough to die for...everyman's responsibility to man." If Bill Clinton had valued poetry more and politics less, Gwendolyn Brooks would have been his Inaugural poet. JFK had the respect for poetry--and the political genius--to select a political enemy, longtime Republican, to grace his Inaugural, Frost.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Putnam

    Sacrilegious to give this less than 5 stars, I know, but the problem is that the collection is a little too complete. It ranges from stunningly insightful, the hauntingly melodic, to the embarrassingly adolescent. And unfortunately, not all the adolescent stuff is that early: Greyday The day hangs heavy loose and grey when you're away. A crown of thorns a shirt of hair is what I wear. No one knows my lonely heart when we're apart. I don't care if this is about mooning over a missing lover or a loss of fait Sacrilegious to give this less than 5 stars, I know, but the problem is that the collection is a little too complete. It ranges from stunningly insightful, the hauntingly melodic, to the embarrassingly adolescent. And unfortunately, not all the adolescent stuff is that early: Greyday The day hangs heavy loose and grey when you're away. A crown of thorns a shirt of hair is what I wear. No one knows my lonely heart when we're apart. I don't care if this is about mooning over a missing lover or a loss of faith, it's just awful. We all have these moments as poets, but someone should know better than to let her put this in a collection. And it's not the only piece like that. Then again, earlier than this sorry sniffle, we have: On Working White Liberals I don't ask the Foreign Legion Or anyone to win my freedom Or to fight my battle better than I can, Though there's one thing that I cry for I believe enough to die for That is every man's responsibility to man. I'm afraid they'll have to prove first That they'll watch the Black man move first Then follow him with faith to kingdom come. This rock road is not paved for us, So, I'll believe in Liberals' aid for for us When I see a white man load a Black man's gun. Wow. See what she did there? And you wonder why those fat white Republican men in Congress say she's controversial. And the plain beauty of this piece: This Winter Day The kitchen is its readiness white green and orange things leak their blood selves in the soup, Ritual sacrifice that snaps an odor at my nose and starts my tongue to march slipping in the liquid of its drip. The day, silver striped in rain, is balked against my window and the soup. Of course, all the famous clarion calls are in here too, but you know those already. You'll find a lot of sides to Angelou you may not have known in this collection.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rachel | rach.b.reads

    So I must admit I am not a huge poetry lover. I have always found it difficult to connect with poetry the way I do with a story in prose. However, in an attempt to challenge myself, I decided to commit to reading at least one volume of poetry this year and I am glad that I chose Dr. Maya Angelou's book. Despite me not loving poetry, I can't help but admire how Angelou is able to express herself through words. The language she uses is so evocative. I appreciated the role imagery played in making So I must admit I am not a huge poetry lover. I have always found it difficult to connect with poetry the way I do with a story in prose. However, in an attempt to challenge myself, I decided to commit to reading at least one volume of poetry this year and I am glad that I chose Dr. Maya Angelou's book. Despite me not loving poetry, I can't help but admire how Angelou is able to express herself through words. The language she uses is so evocative. I appreciated the role imagery played in making her subjects come to life; I think it helped me grasp the poetic concepts. I felt particularly inspired by her poems on racial justice, some of which were very intentional in calling out white people. One of my favorites from this collection was "Family Affairs" in which a black narrator speaks to a white woman who has lived her life safe in an ivory tower while black women were sold into slavery, dragged across Africa's beach "pulled by dusty braids." One day, the white woman decides for trivial reasons to climb down and "step lightly over / My centuries of horror / And take my hand, / Smiling call me / Sister." The narrator responds - "Sister, accept / That I must wait a / While. Allow an age / Of dust to fill / Ruts left on my / Beach in Africa", reminding us all of the time that it takes to heal centuries worth of oppression and trauma. This made me stop and think for a long time. There were other poems that made me laugh, like "The Health-Food Diner" about how she's not really interested in restaurants that don't serve junk food. All that to say, if you are interested in trying some poetry this year, I recommend you check out Dr. Angelou's collection!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book is a collection of poems by Maya Angelou. I am reviewing the poem "Phenomenal Woman". This is a poem that states how phenomenal women are. It describes how powerful women can appear to those around them. We can catch a man's attention by the way we walk into the room or the way we stand. It reminds us that we are phenomenal because we are strong, able to take care of so many other people, take care of our homes, our families yet able to have careers. Women are phenomenal because we can This book is a collection of poems by Maya Angelou. I am reviewing the poem "Phenomenal Woman". This is a poem that states how phenomenal women are. It describes how powerful women can appear to those around them. We can catch a man's attention by the way we walk into the room or the way we stand. It reminds us that we are phenomenal because we are strong, able to take care of so many other people, take care of our homes, our families yet able to have careers. Women are phenomenal because we can do it all and be so much to so many people. It makes me feel empowered and strong! I would recommend this poem for young woman ages 17-25 because that is when we are at an age where we need to be reminded just how capable and in control we are.

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