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.
23 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers and an Elegy”
Maggie, this is a beautiful tribute 🙂
Oh, thank you. I always hesitate to put up my poetry, so I’m glad you liked it.
Like? I love it. Maggie. Using the titles of Maya’s poems to write your own is unique; just knowing the exact lines to add on to hers is spectacular. 🙂
[blushes] Thank you!
A beautiful tribute!
That was very well done. I like how you mentioned that the rape wasn’t allowed to define you. That’s so important.
Well, I was speaking from Maya Angelou’s life, not personal experience.
Oh, sorry. Well, either way it was still well written. 🙂
A very fitting tribute.
Though there are surely a hundred thousand tributes to Ms. Angelou being written this week all across the globe, yours can stand proud with the best of them. Very moving and touching. Hats off to you this week. Maya would have liked it.
Great tribute to a very special person. Well done. Hope you get to read it out.
Phenomenal poem and beautiful tribute. I’m in awe. I believe Maya would approve,
Thanks so much.
A very fitting tribute to a very amazing woman.Please don’t underestimate your poetry, it is something to be very proud of.
I am sure The Lady would have approved.
This is a fantastic tribute – on so many levels. You include so much in those lines and well done in incorporating her poem titles.
Maggie, Beautiful tribute to Maya Angelou. Everything else seems to have been said. Lovely. 🙂 —Susan
Very nice. The last line felt empowering.
I love your point about poets having already used your voice. I feel like that about all sorts of writing sometimes, but I think those us of who write still have to do so. I enjoyed your poem – in particular the last line and the line about taking those final steps alone.
Thanks much. I like the last line, too, but a poet friend of mine (a much published poet) said it was a cliche. I think I’ll stick with my instinct and keep it as is.
I like the formula that you used for your poem. Thank you for explaining it, to make sure that we caught the allusions. When I deliberately read it while not seeking the allusions, the only one that caught my attention was the reference to I Know Why… probably because that poem is so present in my life, and the final line, probably because it is alone. I think that these are great hints for readers who might not read your intro. You succeeded in incorporating the titles smoothly.