October Awareness Month (Week 5)

November 4, 2021

#BlackPoetryDay (Part II) Last week, we encouraged everyone to celebrate #BlackPoetryDay during the month of October. Check out a book from the library or read to your children. Black poets include:

Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Langston Hughes, Margaret Walker, Phillis Wheatley, W.E.B. DuBois and many many others, including rappers. These Black poets throughout the years have influenced millions with their work. Black Poetry Day is celebrated all over the world but especially in the U.S.

In the second of our two-part series on #BlackPoetryDay let’s enjoy a poem from Maya Angelou. Angelou was not only an American poet, she was a storyteller, activist and autobiographer. She was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, MO and became famous as an editor, essayist and poet. Angelou was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton and in 2010 she was awarded by President Barack Obama the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S.

“Angelou was also a prolific and widely read poet, and her poetry has often been lauded more for its depictions of Black beauty, the strength of women, and the human spirit, criticizing the Vietnam War and demanding social justice for all.”1 Enjoy a portion of the poem by Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman:

Phenomenal Woman
By: Maya Angelou

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
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm
around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


1. Poetry Foundation, Maya Angelou, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/maya-angelou.

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