Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

Phenomenal Woman - Poem by Maya Angelou

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,
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Topic(s) of this poem: beautiful

Comments about Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

  • Misbahuddin Syed Misbahuddin Syed (6/11/2013 6:22:00 AM)

    Madam, I am a new poet and I'm only fifteen years old.
    I want you to read my poems and comment.
    Thank you. (Report) Reply

    5 person liked.
    11 person did not like.
  • Shantik Tillman (6/8/2013 6:20:00 PM)

    you are a Phenomenal woman always will be i admire you and you inspired me and alot people
    all your poems are wonderful and unique! ! ! you are my favorite poet! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Jacqueline Burton (6/5/2013 10:07:00 AM)

    Fabulous poem, Every women should read this poem (Report) Reply

  • Oscar Robles Oscar Robles (6/4/2013 3:27:00 PM)

    Simply Beautiful! ! ! Ms. Angelou. You are more than an inspiration to me that words cannot express. It would be more than an Honor for you to read my writings and comment, whether good or bad, as I've always said to myself, nothing is bad worth writing down and sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Earlene Yemima (5/25/2013 2:15:00 PM)

    feminism who fights against racism.
    this heart totally goes to you, Dr. Maya Angelou :) (Report) Reply

  • Earlene Yemima (5/25/2013 2:15:00 PM)

    feminism who fights against racism.
    this heart totally goes to you, Dr. Maya Angelou :) (Report) Reply

  • Ron Jakubiec (5/21/2013 6:44:00 AM)

    Great Poem, thank you. I feel this Poem fits life as I have seen it. There are powerful and phenomenal women within our presence and this Poem helps describes, to some extent, the seeds of power. I am a man. I ask of other men: Have you not met a women who takes your breath away? And you may wonder why, well this Poem may help understand why. (Report) Reply

  • Paul Christensen (5/20/2013 3:29:00 PM)

    Love the poem. But, unfortunately, I note that it still contains vestiges of patriarchy. Three of the four stanzas refer to the impression that she makes on men. As if she, as a woman, were to derive her value from men. Hence, the reliance on men works at cross purposes to the moral of the poem, that a woman's value comes from within. (Report) Reply

  • Gajanan Mishra Gajanan Mishra (5/18/2013 7:59:00 PM)

    As dark as the sun, congratulation. (Report) Reply

  • Friedchickennisha Turner (5/17/2013 1:19:00 PM)

    wazzzaammmmmm? im booling mw? my youngins.... ilove Maya Angelou, i be tuning up to her poems, ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye get at me.. ILOVE YOU MAYA Angelou... SIKE jp i gotchooooo hahahhahah, lol im really do love yaaa Maya! [3 :) keep doing the good work & trust in GOD! (Report) Reply

  • Lexia Jacob (5/15/2013 4:10:00 AM)

    wooww pretty good lines... I really loved reading your poem (Report) Reply

  • Barack Obama (5/14/2013 7:26:00 AM)

    niggas i love this song (Report) Reply

  • Pckdragon Anonymous (5/12/2013 4:19:00 AM)

    swag yolo or yolo swag? amyways heres a poems i found: and i dont know why but you poems people take this website too seriously...


    poop is such a relief to do
    getting rid of all the crap in you

    food in your mouth
    shit out your south
    the cycle relentessly continue

    whether many or a few
    turds in you
    eject easily or slowly drag thru

    daily it's the same
    as your bowels proclaim
    'once again the shit is due! '

    this poem isn't profound
    about that lovely brown mound
    some in fact will think it crap
    and i humbly agree
    with all that's bottled up
    inside me (Report) Reply

  • Jackie Osae (5/7/2013 7:33:00 PM)

    Only a phenomenal woman can write such a phenomenal poem. I love this! (Report) Reply

  • Kacie Sherman (5/7/2013 9:24:00 AM)

    I love this poem... this was the poem that saved my sisters life when she almost committed suicide. I owe my sisters life to the Phenomenal woman who wrote this.

    #TEAM ADAM [333 (Report) Reply

  • Meshack Bankole (5/7/2013 5:54:00 AM)

    Superb, Maya! Nothing is as beautiful as a beauty that knows its naturality! Just as you are, so be... (Report) Reply

  • Joeline Rayment (5/6/2013 2:02:00 AM)

    While there appears a great plethora of individual responses in this comment section lol I suppose it just highlights the truth of Maya's poem.
    when woman who is woman and who knows that she is woman, put forth her self belief, people cannot help but feel the urge to communicate and respond.
    For the essence of a Woman is to be a woman. and the essence of a man is to be a man, and the essence of a commenter...... is to comment: D (Report) Reply

  • Seon King (4/29/2013 7:52:00 AM)

    whAoo amazing............................................................... (Report) Reply

  • Seon King (4/29/2013 7:52:00 AM)

    whAoo amazing............................................................... (Report) Reply

  • Seon King (4/29/2013 7:52:00 AM)

    monkey money you did not wrote this all you just copied and paste Main article: List of Maya Angelou works
    Angelou has written a total of six autobiographies. According to scholar Mary Jane Lupton, Angelou's third autobiography Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas marked the first time a well-known African American autobiographer had written a third volume about her life.[90] Her books stretch over time and place, from Arkansas to Africa and back to the U.S., and take place from the beginnings of World War II to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.[91] Critics have tended to judge Angelou's subsequent autobiographies in light of the first, [92] with Caged Bird receiving the highest praise. Angelou has written five collections of essays, which writer Hilton Als called her wisdom books and homilies strung together with autobiographical texts.[34] Angelou has used the same editor throughout her writing career, Robert Loomis, an executive editor at Random House, who retired in 2011[93] and has been called one of publishing's hall of fame editors.[94] Angelou has said regarding Loomis: We have a relationship that's kind of famous among publishers.[95]
    All my work, my life, everything I do is about survival, not just bare, awful, plodding survival, but survival with grace and faith. While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.
    Maya Angelou[96]
    Angelou's long and extensive career also includes poetry, plays, screenplays for television and film, directing, acting, and public speaking. She is a prolific writer of poetry; her volume Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and she was chosen by President Bill Clinton to recite her poem On the Pulse of Morning during his inauguration in 1993.[62][97]
    Angelou's successful acting career has included roles in numerous plays, films, and television programs, including her appearance in the television mini-series Roots in 1977. Her screenplay, Georgia, Georgia (1972) , was the first original script by a Black woman to be produced and she was the first African American woman to direct a major motion picture, Down in the Delta, in 1998.[66] Since the 1990s, Angelou has actively participated in the lecture circuit, [62] something she continued into her eighties.[67][68] In 2008, Angelou wrote poetry for and narrated the M. K. Asante, Jr. film The Black Candle.
    Chronology of autobiographies
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) : Up to 1944 (age 17)
    Gather Together in My Name (1974) : 1944–1948
    Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976) : 1949–1955
    The Heart of a Woman (1981) : 1957–1962
    All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986) : 1962–1965
    A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002) : 1965–1968
    Reception and legacy


    President Barack Obama presenting Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom,2011
    When I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published in 1969, Angelou was hailed as a new kind of memoirist, one of the first African American women who was able to publicly discuss her personal life. According to scholar Hilton Als, up to that point, black female writers were marginalized to the point that they were unable to present themselves as central characters in the literature they wrote.[34] Scholar John McWhorter agreed, seeing Angelou's works, which he called tracts, as apologetic writing. He placed Angelou in the tradition of African-American literature as a defense of Black culture, which he called a literary manifestation of the imperative that reigned in the black scholarship of the period.[98] Writer Julian Mayfield, who called Caged Bird a work of art that eludes description, [34] argued that Angelou's autobiographies set a precedent not only for other black women writers, but for African American autobiography as a whole. Als said that Caged Bird marked one of the first times that a Black autobiographer could, as Als put it, write about blackness from the inside, without apology or defense.[34] Through the writing of her autobiography, Angelou became recognized and highly respected as a spokesperson for blacks and women.[92] It made her without a doubt, ... America's most visible black woman autobiographer, [99] and a major autobiographical voice of the time.[100] As writer Gary Younge said, Probably more than almost any other writer alive, Angelou's life literally is her work.[67]
    Author Hilton Als said that although Caged Bird was an important contribution to the increase of black feminist writings in the 1970s, he attributed its success less to its originality than with its resonance in the prevailing Zeitgeist, [34] or the time in which it was written, at the end of the American Civil Rights movement. Als also claimed that Angelou's writings, more interested in self-revelation than in politics or feminism, has freed many other female writers to open themselves up without shame to the eyes of the world.[34] Angelou critic Joanne M. Braxton stated that Caged Bird was perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing autobiography written by an African-American woman in its era.[99]
    Critical reception
    Reviewer Elsie B. Washington, most likely due to President Clinton's choice of Angelou to recite her poem On the Pulse of Morning at his 1993 inauguration, has called Angelou the black woman's poet laureate.[101] Sales of the paperback version of her books and poetry rose by 300–600% the week after Angelou's recitation. Bantam Books had to reprint 400,000 copies of all her books to keep up with the demand. Random House, which published Angelou's hardcover books and published the poem later that year, reported that they sold more of her books in January 1993 than they did in all of 1992, accounting for a 1200% increase.[102] Angelou has famously said, in response to criticism regarding using the details of her life in her work, I agree with Balzac and 19th-century writers, black and white, who say, 'I write for money'.[67]
    Angelou's books, especially I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, have been criticized by many parents, causing their removal from school curricula and library shelves. According to the National Coalition Against Censorship, parents and schools have objected to Caged Bird's depictions of lesbianism, premarital cohabitation, pornography, and violence.[103] Some have been critical of the book's sexually explicit scenes, use of language, and irreverent religious depictions.[104] Caged Bird appeared third on the American Library Association (ALA) list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 and sixth on the ALA's 2000–2009 list.[105][106]
    Awards and honors
    Main article: List of honors received by Maya Angelou
    For her work, Angelou has been honored by universities, literary organizations, government agencies, and special interest groups. Her honors have included a National Book Award nomination for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie, [97] a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away, and three Grammys for her spoken word albums.[107][108] In 1995, Angelou's publishing company, Random House, recognized her for having the longest-running record (two years) on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller List.[109] She has served on two presidential committees, [92][110] and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000, [111] the Lincoln Medal in 2008, [112] and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.[113] Angelou has been awarded over thirty honorary degrees.[58]
    Uses in education
    Angelou's autobiographies have been used in narrative and multicultural approaches in teacher education. Jocelyn A. Glazier, a professor at George Washington University, has trained teachers how to talk about race in their classrooms with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Gather Together in My Name. According to Glazier, Angelou's use of understatement, self-mockery, humor, and irony, have led readers of Angelou's autobiographies unsure of what she left out and how they should respond to the events Angelou described. Angelou's depictions of her experiences of racism has forced white readers to explore their feelings about race and their own privileged status. Glazier found that although critics have focused on where Angelou fits within the genre of African-American autobiography and on her literary techniques, readers have tended to react to her storytelling with surprise, particularly when [they] enter the text with certain expectations about the genre of autobiography.[114]
    Educator Daniel Challener, in his 1997 book, Stories of Resilience in Childhood, analyzed the events in Caged Bird to illustrate resiliency in children. Challener argued that Angelou's book has provided a useful framework for exploring the obstacles many children like have Maya faced and how communities have helped children succeed as Angelou did.[115] Psychologist Chris Boyatzis has reported using Caged Bird to supplement scientific theory and research in the instruction of child development topics such as the development of self-concept and self-esteem, ego resilience, industry versus inferiority, effects of abuse, parenting styles, sibling and friendship relations, gender issues, cognitive development, puberty, and identity formation in adolescence. He found the book a highly effective tool for providing real-life examples of these psychological concepts.[116]
    Style and genre in autobiographies

    Main article: Themes in Maya Angelou's autobiographies
    Angelou's use of fiction-writing techniques such as dialogue, characterization, and development of theme, setting, plot, and language has often resulted in the placement of her books into the genre of autobiographical fiction.[117] As feminist scholar Maria Lauret has stated, Angelou has made a deliberate attempt in her books to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre.[118] Scholar Mary Jane Lupton has argued that all of Angelou's autobiographies conform to the genre's standard structure: they are written by a single author, they are chronological, and they contain elements of character, technique, and theme.[119] Angelou has recognized that there are fictional aspects to her books; Lupton agreed, stating that Angelou has tended to diverge from the conventional notion of autobiography as truth, [120] which has paralleled the conventions of much of African-American autobiography written during the abolitionist period of U.S. history, when as both Lupton and African-American scholar Crispin Sartwell put it, the truth was censored out of the need for self-protection.[120][121] Scholar Lyman B. Hagen has placed Angelou in the long tradition of African-American autobiography, but claimed that Angelou has created a unique interpretation of the autobiographical form.[122]
    According to African American literature scholar Pierre A. Walker, the challenge for much of the history of African-American literature was that its authors have had to confirm its status as literature before they could accomplish their political goals, which was why Angelou's editor Robert Loomis was able to dare her into writing Caged Bird by challenging her to write an autobiography that could be considered high art.[123] Angelou has acknowledged that she has followed the slave narrative tradition of speaking in the first-person singular talking about the first-person plural, always saying I meaning 'we'.[92] Scholar John McWhorter called Angelou's books tracts[98] that defended African-American culture and fought against negative stereotypes. According to McWhorter, Angelou structured her books, which to him seemed to be written more for children than for adults, to support her defense of Black culture. McWhorter saw Angelou as she depicted herself in her autobiographies as a kind of stand-in figure for the Black American in Troubled Times.[98] Although McWhorter saw Angelou's works as dated, he recognized that she has helped to pave the way for contemporary black writers who are able to enjoy the luxury of being merely individuals, no longer representatives of the race, only themselves.[124] Scholar Lynn Z. Bloom has compared Angelou's works to the writings of Frederick Douglass, stating that both fulfilled the same purpose: to describe Black culture and to interpret it for their wider, white audiences.[125]
    According to scholar Sondra O'Neale, whereas Angelou's poetry could be placed within the African-American oral tradition, her prose follows classic technique in nonpoetic Western forms.[126] O'Neale stated that although Angelou avoided a monolithic Black language, [127] she accomplished, through direct dialogue, what O'Neale called a more expected ghetto expressiveness.[127] McWhorter found both the language Angelou used in her autobiographies and the people she depicted unrealistic, resulting in a separation between her and her audience. As McWhorter stated, I have never read autobiographical writing where I had such a hard time summoning a sense of how the subject talks, or a sense of who the subject really is.[128] McWhorter asserted, for example, that Angelou's depiction of key figures like herself, her son Guy, and mother Vivian did not speak as one would expect, and that their speech was cleaned up.[129] Guy, for example, represented the young Black male, while Vivian represented the idealized mother figure. The stiff language Angelou used, both in her text and in the language of her subjects, was intended to prove that Blacks were able to competently use standard English.[130]
    McWhorter recognized that much of the reason for Angelou's style was the apologetic nature of her writing.[98] When Angelou wrote Caged Bird at the end of the 1960s, one of the necessary and accepted features of literature at the time was organic unity, and one of her goals was to create a book that satisfied that criteria.[123] The events in her books were episodic and crafted like a series of short stories, but their arrangements did not follow a strict chronology. Instead, they were placed to emphasize the themes of her books, [131] which include racism, identity, family, and travel. English literature scholar Valerie Sayers has asserted that Angelou's poetry and prose are similar. They both relied on her direct voice, which alternated steady rhythms with syncopated patterns and used similes and metaphors (e.g., the caged bird) .[132] According to Hagen, Angelou's works have been influenced by both conventional literary and the oral traditions of the African-American community. For example, she referenced over 100 literary characters throughout her books and poetry.[133] In addition, she used the elements of blues music, including the act of testimony when speaking of one's life and struggles, ironic understatement, and the use of natural metaphors, rhythms, and intonations.[134] Angelou, instead of depending upon plot, used personal and historical events to shape her books.[135]

    Although Angelou considered herself a playwright and poet when her editor Robert Loomis challenged her to write I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, [136] she is best known for her autobiographies. According to Lupton, many of Angelou's readers identify her as a poet first and an autobiographer second.[137] Reviewer Elsie B. Washington has called her the black woman's poet laureate, and has called Angelou's poetry the anthems of African Americans.[101] Angelou has experienced similar success as a poet as she did as an autobiographer. She began, early in her writing career, of alternating the publication of an autobiography and a volume of poetry.[138] Her first volume of poetry Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie, published in 1971 shortly after I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings became a best-seller, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.[139]

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Critics have stated that Angelou's poetry evokes the African-American oral tradition as exemplified by King.
    Angelou's most famous poem was On the Pulse of Morning, which she recited at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Lupton has argued that Angelou's ultimate greatness will be attributed to the poem, and that Angelou's theatrical performance of it, using skills she learned as an actor and speaker, marked a return to the African-American oral tradition of speakers such as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.[137] Angelou delivered what Richard Long called her second 'public' poem, [65] entitled A Brave and Startling Truth, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995. Also in 1995, she was chosen to recite one of her poems at the Million Man March.[140] In 2009, Angelou wrote We Had Him, a poem about Michael Jackson, which was read by Queen Latifah at his funeral.[141]
    As Gillespie has stated, Angelou had fallen in love with poetry in Stamps, Arkansas.[142] After her rape at the age of eight, she memorized and studied great works of literature, including poetry, and according to Caged Bird, her friend Mrs. Flowers encouraged her to recite them, which helped bring her out of her muteness.[143] Gillespie has also stated that Angelou's poems reflect the richness and subtlety of Black speech and sensibilities and were meant to be read aloud.[139] Angelou has supported Gillespie, telling an interviewer in 1983 that she wrote poetry so that it would be read aloud.[144] Critic Harold Bloom had compared Angelou's poetry to musical forms such as country music and ballads, and has characterized her poems as having a social rather than aesthetic function, particularly in an era totally dominated by visual media.[145]
    Scholar Zofia Burr has connected Angelou's failure to impress professional poetry critics[146] to both the public nature of many of her poems and to Angelou's popular success, and to critics' preferences for poetry as a written form rather than a verbal performed one. Bloom has agreed, stating that Angelou's acclaim has been public rather than critical.[145] Critic James Finn Cotter, in his review of Angelou's 1976 volume of poetry Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well, called it an unfortunate example of the dangers of success.[147] Critic John Alfred Avant, despite the fact that the volume was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, stated that Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie isn't accomplished, not by any means.[148]
    Scholar Joanne Braxton has asserted that Angelou's audience, composed largely of women and blacks, isn't really affected by what white and/or male critics of the dominant literary tradition have to say about her work. This audience does not read literary critics; it does read Maya Angelou.[149] Burr has countered Angelou's critics by condemning them for not taking into account Angelou's larger purposes in her writing: to be representative rather than individual, authoritative rather than confessional.[150] Bloom has called Angelou's poetry popular poetry and states that it makes no formal or cognitive demands upon the reader.[145]

    Explanatory notes
    ^ According to Angelou, Annie Henderson built her business with food stalls catering to Black workers, which eventually developed into a store.[8]
    ^ At the end of Angelou's third autobiography, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, her son changed his name to Guy Johnson.[21]
    ^ Reviewer John M. Miller calls Angelou's performance of her song All That Happens in the Marketplace the most genuine musical moment in the film.[31]
    ^ Guy Johnson, who as a result of this accident in Accra and one in the late 1960s, underwent a series of spinal surgeries. He also, like his mother, became a writer and poet.[41]
    ^ Angelou called her friendship with Malcolm X a brother/sister relationship.[46]
    ^ Angelou did not celebrate her birthday for many years, choosing instead to send flowers to King's widow Coretta Scott King.[50]
    ^ Angelou described their marriage, which she called made in heaven, [55] in her second book of essays Even the Stars Look Lonesome (1997) .
    ^ Angelou dedicated her 1993 book of essays Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now to Winfrey.[60]
    ^ In her fifth autobiography All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes(1987) , Angelou recounts being identified, on the basis of her appearance, as part of the Bambara people, a subset of the Mande.[80]
    ^ See Gillespie et al., pp.153–175.
    ^ In Angelou's essay, My Grandson, Home at Last, published in Woman's Day in 1986, she describes the kidnapping and her response to it.[85] ya u did copy it i saw that information at internet google (Report) Reply

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