Poems by Maya Angelou

It was my friend Maureen who introduced me to Maya Angelou’s poetry when she gave me a copy of her book, Poems, some years ago. I am surprised to see that I have not yet reviewed the book, because it is one of my constant companions. Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist who was born in St. Louis Missouri, USA on 4 April 1928. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years until her death in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA on 28 May 2014.

The wisdom, humour and emotion of Maya Angelou’s work bear a lilting rhythm completely her own. Her poetry is born of her back ground in black church singing and preaching. There is also the music of soft mother talk, salty street talk and also her love of literature and life.

If you have a chance, do pick up a copy of Poems by Maya Angelou. Every line is lyrical magic. I heartily recommend it.

 Valerie Penny

Amongst my favourite poems in this collection are:

Awaking in New York

 Curtains forcing their will   New York

against the wind,
children sleep,
exchanging dreams with   
seraphim. The city
drags itself awake on   
subway straps; and
I, an alarm, awake as a   
rumor of war,
lie stretching into dawn,   
unasked and unheeded.
PoemsThe Lie
Today you threaten to leave me.
I hold curses, in my mouth,
which could flood your path, sear
bottomless chasms in your road.
I keep behind my lips,
invectives capable of tearing
the septum from your
nostrils and the skin from your back.
Tears, copious as a spring rain,
are checked in ducts
and screams are crowded in a corner
of my throat.
You are leaving?
Aloud, I say:
I’ll help you pack, but it’s getting late,
I have to hurry or miss my date.
When I return, I know you’ll be gone.
Do drop a line or telephone.

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