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Maya Angelou Poems and Tribute: Thank You for Inspiring Me, Maya

Maya Angelou poems and quotes

Maya Angelou is a woman I admire for so many reasons. She wrote amazing poetry, for one. She also spoke her mind intelligently as a civil rights activist and refused to be held down as a woman. Below are my favorite Maya Angelou poems in this tribute from the heart.

Personal Reflections Upon Her Passing

When she passed away in 2014, I remember being so overcome with sadness and writing many of the following words on my poetry blog. Today, I realize that my time is better used rejoicing for her brilliant mind that she shared in books, public speeches, and interviews. Thankfully, her inspiring words live on.

This African American woman has been a personal literary hero of sorts for many years now, as part of a select group of authors I look up to. She spoke and wrote words that made me stop and ponder about life, as well as helping me to realize that female poets can achieve so much.

Maya Angelou Poems I Adore

While she may be best known for her 1969 autobiographical book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” I can’t say enough how much her poetry has resonated with me. Here some of my favorite poems from her:

Awakening in New York – This is my top pick for her poems. It captures the city of New York so well and the line “stretching into dawn” has many layers of meaning. Two years ago, I wrote a full analysis of the Maya Angelou poem. I plan to share this analysis soon here on the blog.

Still I Rise – This poem reminds us to never give up, no matter what is thrown our way. The words dance a fine line between bitter, oppressed, and sass. Her confident voice tells of how she has refused to be held down by racist attitudes, with such a personal tone to this poem that commands you continue to read it.

A Brave and Startling Truth – This poem has strong imagery and speaks to how she was not afraid to tackle controversial issues. She understood that the abuse is something we need to confront and used words of poetry to do so. Her words slide effortlessly across the page while depicting such struggle – the irony is not lost on me.

Maya Angelou poems
A smile from Maya. Photo by York College ISLGP, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr.

So Many Dreams Realized

The range of roles and accomplishments she achieved is not lost on me. Starting her career as a dancer and singer, she would go on to publish amazing poetry and prose. As if this was not enough, she was a teacher of American studies at several post-secondary institutions and also a screenwriter. Did I also mention that former-President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010?

These accomplishments were diverse and yet still connected under her platform of resilience, leadership, and unapologetic confidence. It is a reminder that you are not restricted to one thing. Yes, I wrote two poetry books, but I still can blog and write fiction too. You too can expand how you see yourself, using Maya’s many accomplishments as an example.

Her Motivational Quotes are as Brilliant as Maya Angelou Poems

Many times her quoted words have left me breathless. She had a way of connecting with both young and old – there was no age limit to who she could reach. How could that be? Because, words – in her quotes, poems, and books – could reach through to the ageless heart of many people. Here are some wonderful quotes from her:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

“Be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud.”

“I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.”

“People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And, taking the line from that last quote above, Maya Angelou did and still does make me feel powerful. Her words touch me as women, poet, and author. She gave me hope of rising from abuse and finding therapy in my words. Rest in peace, dear Maya, and we promise to keep your words close to our hearts.

67 thoughts on “Maya Angelou Poems and Tribute: Thank You for Inspiring Me, Maya”

    1. That’s too sweet of you. Do visit my site and read some of my poems, please. You can share some of them if you like.

  1. I always introduce Maya Angelou in my classes as my personal writing mentor and guru and my hero. When she passed, I received a call of condolence from a student I’d had the previous semester. It meant a great deal to me.

  2. A few years ago a friend lent me a collection of 3 CDs of Maya Angelou’s writing. I can’t be sure, but I think they may have been read by Maya also. They were inspirational. I join you in your tribute. I’m sad to say that I didn’t know of her before her passing, but what a great legacy she left to inspire us and future generations. The quotes you have shared are wonderful, and I look forward to reading your analysis of her poem.

  3. I love Maya Angelou’s quotes, writing and poetry as well! Remarkable woman and her words are such and inspiration and will live on for ever in our hearts!

  4. Hi Christy,

    I love to read about great people, and Maya is definitely great woman.”Still I Rise is beautiful poem, really great reminder that we never give up.
    ” Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
    I rise
    Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
    I rise”….brilliant

    Thank you for sharing

  5. A beautiful tribute to a legend, a graceful warrior, and remarkable soul. Thanks so much for sharing, Christy. Amazing tribute! XO

  6. Maya Angelou was one of my heroes, too. I remember when she passed away: the director of the school where I work asked me to write a post on behalf of the school and share some quotes about her on social media. Incredible lady, she was, and her amazing spirit was so strong that so many of us feel her in our hearts, even these few years after her passing.
    The “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” poem put her on the map, but I knew I was in love with her writing when she spoke at Bill Clinton’s inaugural address in 1992. I was in 7th grade and sat down to watch it on TV. She mesmerized me even then: everything she overcame and how powerful her words are!! Thank you for sharing this. I want to go back and re-read some of her poetry because I feel more of a calling to incorporate poetry into my writing these days. On another note, I’m missing your Poetic Parfait blog – I know you’re over here and I’m infinitely glad – I just find myself sometimes typing in that web address to get my dose of poetry. LOL. Sending you hugs, Dear One. May you have a wonderful week!

    1. Thanks for saying that about the poetry blog. I’m not saying I won’t write any more poetry but I’m still figuring it all out.. I miss it too.. Thanks for sharing your memory of Maya at Clinton’s inaugural address. That was a moment when so many people stopped to watch her and learn… I feel even closer to you for sharing this hero. xo

  7. I love your post, CB… I will make sure to look for her on Netflix &/or Youtube tonight. I often find good thing. :). I´d love to know more still more about her. Hugs <3

    1. I finally watched Oprah interviewing Maya Angelou last night. It was really deep… & Beautiful! Thanks for the inspiration, Chris <3 xo

  8. One day, Christy, you will rise up and be with Maya.Keep writing poetry!!! I check in often to Poetic Parfait, awaiting your newest poem.

    1. Oh Resa I appreciate the support, which has been over years now. I only hope that my words help people, whether they reach the scope of Maya or not. YOU are a beautiful soul. Your comment made my day.

  9. I read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” years ago and loved it, but for some reason I haven’t read much of her poetry. The Still I Rise poem gave me chills. I’ll have to read more of her poetry now – thank you!

  10. I’ve been wanting to read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” for so long. The first time I had some trouble getting into it, but now you’ve inspired me to try again. Thank you!

  11. Christy, I recall having commented on your 2014 post about Maya Angelou and here I am on an encore because she is one of my favourite poets. When sublime poetry chooses to blossom through the downtrodden and oppressed, the world sees a flower called Maya Angelou.

    1. A flower she was – and her words continue to blossom as new readers discover her. Thank you Raj for being there in 2014 and today to comment on her work.

    1. I am with you, darling! She was one of my all-time idols, I almost felt she was immortal, and it broke me when she passed! Comments responding to your post made me feel her continuing presence!

  12. This is a wonderful post and such a lovely way to share her courageous spirit and remember her. Some of my favourite quotes are by Maya. What an incredibly lady! x

  13. A great tribute to a great woman who never fails to inspire me. I especially like her quote “you may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated”. Your affection for her is very evident and very moving, Christy, thank you.

  14. Beautiful post, Christy! She was an incredible woman and writer – and it’s fascinating to see how she touched your life and your work! Wonderful quotes at the end … all inspiring.

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