A celebration of Maya Angelou

In honour of Black History Month, I have written a blog about my favourite female author – Maya Angelou!

Image of Maya Angelou looking happy!

I have loved Maya Angelou ever since I was a little girl. I think her kind face brings me comfort and reminds me of my gran. Her writing gave me hope and inspired me to push through adversity and never give up; when giving up felt like the only option.

Maya’s life

Maya was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. After her mum’s marriage ended, when Maya was four, her and her brother were sent on the train to rural Arkansas to live with the grandmother. After a traumatic event at age eight, she stopped speaking for five years. However, Maya rediscovered her voice through wonderful books, and went on to become one of the world’s most beloved writers and speakers.

Maya has written seven autobiographies, I highly recommend reading a few to gain more insight into her incredible life. Starting with I know why the cage bird sings; available at Ormskirk Public Library.

Why I love Maya

Maya was courageous and awe-inspiring. She was her authentic self, unapologetically. She pushed through the prejudice society has set for women at that time. She sang, she danced, she stood up for what she believed; she was a civil rights activist, an incredible writer, speaker and poet! It was rare to see a woman combine all those things and do it with sass, beauty, passion and kindness.

The thing that sticks out to me throughout Maya’s work is that she is honest and real about the challenges and hardships she faced. Life is tough for everyone and she did not shy away from sharing her adversity, but also sharing how she pushed through and got to the other side.

My favorite quote

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.”

My favorite books

Letter to my daughter
A beautiful book highlighting some of the lessons Maya has learned from her life. Each chapter breaks down a specific topic, Maya describes a time in her life where she has experienced something and shares the lessons she learned. 

Me, Mom and Me
Maya shares memories of her relationship with her mother. The challenges and changes of their time together as she aged, and how her life changed.   

My favorite poem

Phenomenal women
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.
I say,
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
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


If you have enjoyed this excerpt, you can read the full poem here

Her work in present day

Her work is used in many different ways throughout the world. One that sticks out for me is Sport England This Girl Can campaign.

Their promotional video uses Maya’s Phenomenal Women poem to highlight how women can be empowered by sport and physical activity. I remember when I first seen it the video, I didn’t expect to hear Maya’s voice or her poem. My full body covered in goose bumps!

The video was released a year after Maya died – what a lovely way to keep her memory and her incredible work alive!

Podcast

If you want to listen to more of Maya’s beautiful voice check out these podcasts:
Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations – Best Advice She Ever Recieved
Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations – When You Know Better, You Do Better

Books avaialble from the EHU University Library

I shall not be moved
I Shall Not Be Moved
Gather together in my name
Gather Together In My Name
Maya Angelou. Little People, Big Dreams
Maya Angelou: Little People, Big Dreams

If you have enjoyed reading my blog, don’t forget to check out the Black History Month fiction book display on the ground floor of Catalyst available until the end of October 2019. After this the books will still be available to loan and you can access this handy guide anytime or online book list to find out more.

Thank you for reading my blog – Student Advisors Jen 📚

Student Advisor Jen
Jen Murray
MSc Sport, Physical Activity & Mental Health

2 thoughts on “A celebration of Maya Angelou

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Shirley – it really was a lovely blog from Jen – I will be sure to pass on your feedback!

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