Rising Up Of Phenomenal Women! Black American Her/History 360, Women’s Herstory Month 2020, World Poetry Day 2020

If you were blessed to live during the time of Dr. Maya Angelou, you were a truly blessed human being. The richness in her tone, as she spoke poetic words, personifies one area of the Earth’s soiling. You felt healed, and re-newed, when listening to, her sound. Whatever pain you were experiencing for the time, seemed to miraculously fade away. . .even if it was just for that moment. She spoke things that very few would say. Things that made sense, and spiritual clarity. And when she said them, there was a silent pause after you heard them. Her words echoed silently, as a person rested in stillness’ comfort. Being amazed and astonished at the power of truth, and its accuracy to be felt. The life behind truth in being able to feel, real! Because the truth of the mater is that truth is real! You feel it the moment you hear it. The energies behind truth are real. They are vibrant, illuminating, vigilant, and nourishing. The outcome of truth is that it is liberating.

(Source: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/blog/op-ed-five-dr-maya-angelous-greatest-legacies/)

One of Dr. Maya Angelou’s famous poems, Phenomenal Woman, is a testament to truth’s liberation. And, this is especially true for women. In the realm of beauty and femininity, women have been fed many lies. We have been told to “fix” ourselves. Change our natural persona, figures, lips, and everything else that is “wrong” with our physicality. Women are told that our femininity begins on the surface. When in actuality, it begins in the interior. Starting from the inside and blossoming to the out.

Hearing the first stanza of the poem, one can envision a “plain Jane.” A woman who would not be considered “beautiful” by mainstream standards. Yet, she was beautiful, because she was her. . .authentic self. Because no other woman could be her, is what made her. . .beautiful. Clearly, she had already found content and joy in her own existence. Reading more into that initial chemistry, that Dr. Angelou conveys in the poem, is where we will also view that invisible energy, which truly defines womanhood.

(Source: https://backroommusic.com/events-1/2018/7/8/dr-mwanza-furahas-cabaret-underground-presents-a-tribute-to-dr-maya-angelou)
(Source: https://www.oprah.com/omagazine/oprah-interviews-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 our hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman. That’s me. . .”

Just reading the lyrics, one is introduced to the mystery of woman, through her movement. How she maneuvers and journeys through the Earth. Dr. Angelou writes the poem in such a way, that readers are forced to view a woman’s beauty on a much deeper level. Something that is more than an outer appearance. In fact, Dr. Angelou highlights, in the poem, how “beautiful women,” who have been blessed with beauty on the outside, have clearly missed out on this hidden wonder of a woman. For them, physical beauty caused them to be oblivious to this other world of showcasing one’s femininity. They are shocked and surprised, that their good looks have made this other world, and allure, of womanhood, hidden from them.

(Source: https://womenforone.com/a-conversation-with-dr-maya-angelou/)

Looking more into the poem, it is clear, that the woman character of this poem, is delving more into a natural essence of beauty. It is a particular essence, where what she speaks about herself, comes to life. Meaning that because she views her stride, hips, and lips as beautiful. . .so, they are. Speaking one’s beauty is what makes her beautiful, even if others do not see it, initially. Because she speaks her beauty, it becomes illuminating to others-including other “pretty women,” who have been forced to see her as. . .beautiful!

Further diving into this part of the poem, highlights the following words: span, stride, and curl. Notice the words and their dimension. These are words, which can be verbs or nouns. Which means that while, we are women, it is the action behind the term, that makes woman, interesting! A pretty face, and “model’s size” becomes boring if there is no action behind it. And, even if there is action underneath, if that action is without any mystery, it becomes dull if it does not propel into greater heights.

The stretching of her arms clearly indicates that there is a greater power than her own physical existence. And, this power allows her to interact with others. To connect with others, and illuminate the beauty within themselves. The most beautiful woman is someone, who makes others feel great about, who they are. “Pretty women,” or women who use beauty for vanity and conceit don’t see that. That’s why they “think” she’s “telling lies.” They are too stuck in the ego, in thinking that it is they, who control (and should control) the realm of beauty. That they should somehow maintain a monopoly on it. That only they can benefit from the rewards and riches and rewards of beauty. Yet, in “Phenomenal Woman,” Dr. Maya Angelou makes it clear that, they don’t.

When going into the next stanza of the poem, we have an interesting take in how we connect beauty with the realm of nature.

“I walk into a room, just as cool as I 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, Its 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 Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me. . .”

(Source: https://www.mayaangelou.com/)

The coolness in her walk, indicates that she is confident in her exsitence. She doesn’t need to be loud or dress loud. Quite frankly, her “cool” nature makes it clear that she is not seeking the attention of men. That her existence is connected to a grander, life’s purpose. That is what makes her. . .attractive. Dr. Maya Angelou’s metaphoric use, “A hive of honey bees,” reflects that her essence is connected to life’s natural element. For honey bees to swarm around her, indicates that she is, indeed, connected to. . .honey. Honey is healing! Honey is a natural sweetner. Honey is healthy. These attributes surrounding the character’s existence, reveals that she is not only phenomenal, but also. . .real!

Let’s not forget the words: fire, flash, swing, and joy. Notice the natural elements of fire and the flash of light. Swing also indicates a rhythm and movement. And, lastly, there is joy. For a woman to exude joy by her own persona is, magical. Read through the lines and notice those feminine traits that one can not wear, buy, or fix. Either they are there, or they are not.

There are many elements of this poem, which highlights those mysterious attributes of “not so pretty women” (according to society’s definition of beauty). Yet, they are more connected to the feminine, simply because they could not solely reply on their outer appearances. They had to dig much deeper. Not only dig, but they had to connect to Earth’s secrets and mysteries of the feminine world. If they were going to be as attractive, and illuminate the spaces they walk on, such was required.

(Source: https://www.nypl.org/blog/2017/04/04/maya-angelou-research-guide)

Let these phenomenal women be our guides. For in much of their daily lives, there is wisdom that many women, seek. Even those who have been placed on pedestals, are curious in their desire to learn from these particular dames. That’s the phenomenon of such women. They are “average-looking” women. And yet, they carry themselves as if they are on the same level as a beauty queen. And, because they have aligned themselves with Earth’s shaping and rhythm, they are on a level that even beauty queens can not reach. That’s the phenomenon of, natural women!

For women to re-claim their treasures, and Earthly essence, is one of the teachings of the legendary, Dr. Maya Angelou! Her writing of this particular poem is a love letter to women. A call for them to, go deeper. Getting women to reach a deeper understanding in what it means to be beautiful. Through this very poem, alone, Dr. Angelou, calls for women to learn, and practice, the true meaning of. . .beauty. For a woman to be beautiful, what does this entail? What made this “not so pretty” woman attract attention, in this way? Its because she is striding on a natural plane. Moving to a natural beat. And, she is connecting her beauty to others. This poem doesn’t say that. Nevertheless, you can imagine that this is happening. These phenomenal women are making others happy, by their very persona. They are spreading this energy to other women. In doing so, they are reminding other women of their natural aura and connection to Earth’s mystery. That is the joy of it all! It is the phenomenon of an Earthly, woman!

(Source: https://eastgreenwichnews.com/52-incredible-women-dr-maya-angelou-poet-laureate/)
(Source: https://nypost.com/2014/05/28/maya-angelou-dead-at-86/)

For more information on Dr. Maya Angelous, you can go to the following: https://www.mayaangelou.com/

To read the poem, “Phenomenal Woman,” you can click on the following link: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/phenomenal-woman-by-maya-angelou

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