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Maya Angelou Poetry Essay

1117 words - 5 pages

Maya Angelou is considered by many to be the foremost poet of her age. While the themes of her literature are largely connected, her delivery is varied. In her poetry, she has used wit, sarcasm, imagery, and diverse rhythm. Angelou has used these techniques and the recognition it has provided for her, to fight for the civil rights of African Americans and women. After examining the life of Maya Angelou, it is easy to see that much of her work focuses on the significance of African Americans and women. Poems written by Maya Angelou, including Phenomenal Woman, Million Man March Poem, and Still I Rise, evidently support this theme. Phenomenal Woman primarily focuses on the significance of ...view middle of the document...

Since the mid ‘50’s, Angelou has produced fiction and nonfiction prose, poetry, and even musical albums. She has also performed in musicals, worked as a professional dancer, and read her music at presidential inaugurations. With all of her accomplishments, Maya Angelou has become an international role model for women.
Phenomenal Woman is a poem about womanly pride, written by Maya Angelou. According to Hagen, “...it repeats at the end of each refrain, the secret lies in the simple fact that she is a woman...” (Hagen). Angelou suggests that the extraordinary physical features of a woman are somewhat of a mystery; one that only a woman could possibly understand. Phenomenal Woman largely relates to the theme, significance of women. Hagen also states, “This hymnlike poem honors women's beauty and expresses the dynamic force of a woman strong with inner pride, individuality, and personal glory.” (Thursby). Angelou’s honor of being a woman is emphasized by her repetition of physical characteristics that only women retain. For example in the lines, “...It’s in the reach of my arms/ The span of my hips,/ The stride in my step,/ The curl of my lips./ I’m a woman/ Phenomenally/ Phenomenal woman,/ That’s me....”, Maya refers to her arms, hips, stride, and lips. Considering that she was taken advantage of at a young age, it could have been assumed that she thought of being a girl as a misfortune. However, it is obvious that Phenomenal Woman portrays that Angelou is nothing but proud to have the swing in her waist and the joy in her feet.
In 1995, Million Man March Poem was written by Maya Angelou. This poem especially connects with the theme, significance of African Americans. Angelou wrote Million Man March Poem specifically for the Million Man March that took place on October 16, 1995. The Million Man March was a gathering of black males in Washington D.C.. According to Thursby, “‘Million Man March Poem’ begins with the recognition that African-American people have suffered for centuries” (Thursby). The entire poem describes what the African Americans endured. For example, “The hells we have lived through and live through still / Have sharpened our senses and toughened our will.” (Angelou). Angelou vividly expresses the historical and continued discrimination of African Americans....

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