As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no poet but wish I were. I occasionally dabble and embarrass myself and anyone unfortunate enough to read my attempts. I often read a poet’s work (Seamus Heaney, for example) and realize, there, that’s my voice; there’s nothing I can add.
Of course, there are the times where you read a poet for the first time and understand you could never come close so why bother. I had that feeling when I first read Maya Angelou. When I heard her read “Phenomenal Woman,” I knew those were the words forever locked in my head, which she freed and expressed for the benefit of all us phenomenal women. There were times when that poem was a mantra for me, and I would read it over and over and I, too, would rise. Do me a favor and read “Phenomenal Woman” by clicking here.
So, in addition to a facelift for the blog, (The theme is called “Hemingway Rewritten,” by the way.) I’m changing just for today the format of my Friday Fictioneers offering. Instead of a post here and the story under the Friday Fictioneers tab, I’m combining them. In lieu of a 100-word story, I’ve written a 131-word elegy (def. elegy – a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem) in honor of Maya Angelou. I know, totally presumptuous of me, and, frankly, if I were a poet, I’d have managed to write a 100-word poem, but I’m not, so 131 words. Mea culpa. To read other Friday Fictioneers offerings on the photo prompt, click on the icon at the end of my, gulp, poem.
The poem consists of seven stanzas, and I’ve taken the title of nine of her poems which most resonated with me and used them as the first line of five of those stanzas. In the six stanza, the title of three of her poems begin each line, and the final, one-line stanza is the title of the ninth poem. The poems are:
- “Caged Bird”
- “On the Pulse of Morning”
- “Still I Rise”
- “Phenomenal Woman”
- “To a Man”
- “When I Think About Myself”
- “Human Family”
Here is today’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt, which evoked for me not just Ms. Angelou’s connection with academia but the concept of passing through a doorway to wherever she is now:
And here is “Elegy for Maya,” with my humble apology:
When I think about myself
I am amazed at the breadth and depth and scope
Of my life. Every place in the
Human family I have occupied:
Dancer, singer, actress, composer, director, author, and more.
I have honors, awards, but I am
Alone in this latest endeavor
As we all will be when life’s final steps are taken.
No longer will I be the
Caged bird whose words caused
A man to die for his hideous violation of a child.
I became who I am in my
Refusal to allow this rape
To define me. Instead, I grew, I flew, I rose, I rose.
And those who heard my words
To a man declared
Phenomenal woman to take us to places unknown; so
On the pulse of morning
Still I rise.
(c)2014 by Phyllis A. Duncan; reprint with permission only.