Maya Angelou, You Still Rise and Always Will

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It’s April 4th, and had she been alive, she would have been 87, today. Yes, I’m talking about Maya Angelou. A woman who has been nothing less than a voice for women, especially black women, her writings explored the dangerous waters of racism, identity and family ethos. An American poet, dancer, actress, singer and author, she has written as many as seven autobiographies, several editions of poetry, three books of essay and a list of plays, movies, television shows that span over half a century.

While she has been widely known for her first autography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, what made me consume her work was her poetry. Made up of 32 short poems and divided into 3 parts, And I Still Rise has been a collection that has never ceased to inspire me. The crux of the poems’ in this series delves deep into the theme of hopeful determination to rise above the dissuasion that follows when our life gets obscured with complexities. In Neubauer’s words, “These poems are inspired and spoken by a confident voice of strength that recognizes its own power and will no longer be pushed into passivity.”

To my mind, the poem, Still I Rise, is an exceptionally powerful one that speaks of the unconquerable spirit of the ever suppressed Black people. She is highly vocal about the injustices meted out to them by the ones who are racially “superior” to them and gives a sliver of hope to all the oppressed and downtrodden. Love, loneliness, Southern racism in America have predominantly been dwelled upon by this “phenomenal woman,” however, in this collection, she has walked around the aspects of family ethos and the nature of women. Often performing as a crowd pleaser, Angelou had been raped when she was just eight. And Still I Rise, therefore, is an extremely courageous collection that brings to the fore, the indomitable attitude of a woman.

As she once said, “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” Always an inspiration, you may write her down in history with your bitter, twisted lies; you may tread her in the very dirt; but still, like dust, she’ll rise.

Sangeeta Purkayastha

Image Source: The Viewspaper