“It’s in the arch of my back,

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.”

                   Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou

It is a year next week since Maya Angelou died. Born into a tempestuous marriage, raped at eight-years-old by her mother’s boyfriend, a mother herself by 17, Maya went on to become, at various stages, a performer, a prostitute, a car mechanic, a waitress, a poet and writer, a newspaper editor, a film director, and a civil rights activist. She was a friend and confidant of both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and read at the inauguration of Bill Clinton. What some people achieve in one lifetime is remarkable.

Phenomenal Woman is Angelou’s stunning homage to herself and a celebration of her beauty and ability to captivate, despite not being “cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size.” It’s a rallying cry for the gorgeousness of tall, broad women everywhere! Her reading of the poem never fails to make my spine tingle and it’s worth listening till the end just to hear the spirit and joy with which she delivers the final line.

 

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