“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” These are the words of Marguerite Ann Johnson, better known as Maya Angelou, who is known as one of the most influential voices of our time. She is not only a poet but also a novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. (http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/87) Although she experienced the negativity of racial discrimination, she also realized how meaningful her own African-American traditions were and how important it is to be proud of who you are. The integrity, courage, hope, and inspiration that Maya Angelou has shared to the world through her works make her intriguing to me.
Truthfully, my previous knowledge of Maya Angelou merely consisted of the facts that she is a renowned poet, and she once appeared on the Oprah Winfrey television show. After doing further research on Angelou, I honestly can admit that Maya Angelou’s poems have that “on” switch that can make the reader truly respect her, and, even if the reader does not know Maya Angelou’s life, he or she can come to the conclusion that Angelou is a strong woman with influential words and a powerful outlook on life.
Despite the popular achievement of her poetry, general critical consent holds that Angelou would be hardly known as a poet if she was not famous for the harsh circumstances of her life. Her poems are considered by some critics to be lacking poetic invention and are dull in Fullerton 2
language. Others, however, argue that the poems belong to a neglected oral tradition, include elements of African-American slave songs and work songs, and should be seen as lyrics which require performance to reveal their depth. As critic Lyman B. Hagen has observed, “Angelou may rank as a poet of moderate ability, but her poetry is praised for its honesty and for a moving sense of dignity.”...