Maya Angelou was an incredible woman and an astoundingly good writer. And Still I Rise is the first book I’ve read by Angelou and I was absolutely blown away. The poems in this collection have a good rhythm and roll off the tongue, I definitely think that they’d be pretty approachable for readers that don’t read poetry often.
Many of the poems had a playful, even mocking tone even when talking about dark subjects which really showcases Angelou’s mastery of the English language. Analytical readers will find many of the poems to be thick with metaphor, giving readers a lot to reflect on after each poem.
“Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.”
The poetry in this collection cover a wide variety of topics, such as race, love, lust, sexism, rape, slavery, abuse, religion, the list goes on. It’s clear that these poems are deeply personal and come from Angelou’s own experiences. Several of the poems were truly empowering for women and African Americans, such as in the titular And Still I Rise and Phenomenal Woman. There will definitely be something here for most readers.
There is a lot to admire in this collection and I can tell already that Maya Angelou will become a favorite for me.
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.
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
Thus begins “Phenomenal Woman,” just one of the beloved poems collected here in Maya Angelou’s third book of verse. These poems are powerful, distinctive, and fresh—and, as always, full of the lifting rhythms of love and remembering. And Still I Rise is written from the heart, a celebration of life as only Maya Angelou has discovered it.