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Maya Angelou: Poems

Reading poetry has always been a favorite pastime (and some of us like to quote them). Not that I could memorize the lot (except a few favorites and even then I could barely do it without aplomb) but it was more in the moment of reading when I feel it pierce the shutters of my mind, in that last passage or two when words rush through like a blast on the face to destroy me.

I had thought of words to say about Maya Angelou's poetry but somehow it got lost somewhere between my throat and teeth leaving me hitching my breath in its raw poignant tones. Long minutes later, I could attempt to begin again.

The book is a collection of poems from four volumes of her work published years before. Some favorites like "Remembering" and "To a Husband" are from Just Give me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diie and Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well, which explores themes of anguished love, nostalgia and tenderness. "They Went Home" just left me undone like its last word.

In the latter two volumes, there's a strong representation of race struggles like slavery and ridicule, of womanity as her more famous poem "Phenomenal Women" displays, of places and religion. One could sense the naked truths of the heart, the sensuality of seasons, bodies and things, imbalance of society in her poems for those not afraid to absorb these things upfront. If not, one misses her point.

Underneath it all what permeates is the (author's) struggle, sadness, pain like knife giving no quarters and sometimes brimming joy and gentle exhilaration. In the end, her poems strike me slowly, or swiftly, and it leaves me in utter speechlessness.

Title: Maya Angelou: Poems
Author: Maya Angelou
Genre: Poetry
Published: 1986
Publisher: Bantam Books
Rating: ♨♨ (4 cups - Bitter and beautiful.)


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