The first time I read Maya Angelou‘s works, I was a senior in high school. One of my “classes” was office duty in the library. At first, I dreaded it due to the mundane tasks of reshelving books and stacking magazines. But after a while, I paid attention to the book blurbs and titles. My world opened up.
Reading I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing left me feeling like a fly on the wall. Mrs. Angelou’s use of vivid descriptions helped me relate to her experience of racism, understand the admiration for a relative too into themselves, and the desire to be accepted and loved. The story captivated me to the point it annoyed me when the bell rang to change classes. I checked the book out and devoured it at home. In adulthood, I binge-read Gather Together in My Name and Mom & Me & Mom.
Mrs. Angelou’s works gave a sense of empowerment, helping me to self-evaluate on my own terms. She tried a variety of things in her life besides writing – singing, dancing, and acting to name a few. She had a made up mind to try regardless of whether it worked out or not. This inspired my determination to achieve all I desired, taking lessons learned to shape me into a better woman, human being, and Christian.
As for writing, I LOVED her style. Her flow’s effortless, colorful, emotional, and informative. Sometimes the sentences were long-winded, but you gained so much by the time you reached the end. And if you’ve ever heard her read, you heard the class and distinction in her voice. The stories had a moral – never in a matter-of-fact way or that her perspective is the rule. More like sharing and if you gleaned something from it, good.
What I hope to achieve through my writings is to paint the world with words just as beautiful and colorful as Mrs. Angelou, and to convey a message that will inspire others.
Photo: Maya Angelou 1988 via photopin (license)