Maya Angelou Still I Rise and Phenomenal Woman - Title Dr...

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Title Dr. Angelou’s poems “Still I Rise” and “Phenomenal Woman” invite readers to witness her struggle as a woman, an African-American, and a storyteller of history. “Still I Rise” speaks of the agonizing and triumphant history of African-Americans, and “Phenomenal Woman” voices Dr. Angelou’s vitality and positive outlook on African-American womaness. Both poems explore how “Blackness” plays a part in Dr. Angelous’s perception about life and how African- Americans, especially African-American women, are humiliated and perceived by other ethnic groups. At a very young age Dr. Angelou had to overcome many difficulties, such as her rape by her mother’s boyfriend and the racism she lived through in Stamps, Arkansas ("Maya Angelou (American poet..). Dr. Angelou’s impressionable self was further shaped by her reaction to the murder of the man who had raped her. Coming to the conclusion that one’s words held the power of life in death, Dr. Angelou took a vow of silence as she felt responsible for the murder of her rapist ("Maya Angelou (American poet…). Those years of silence were crucial to Dr. Angelou’s early development as a writer, as was the birth of her son Guy at the age of sixteen and her brief stint as a prostitute and madam ("Maya Angelou (American poet…). Dr. Angelou has risen from what she considers to be the lowest depths of life, the ‘gutta,’ to have become one of the most celebrated writers of the 20 th and 21 st centuries. Her poems “Still I Rise” and “Phenomenal Woman” are as autobiographical as her seven widely acclaimed autobiographies: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1970), Gather Together in My Name (1974), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976), The Heart of a Woman (1981), "Why I Moved Back to the South" (1982), All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), "My Grandson, Home at Last" (1986); these two poems communicate her personal experiences and deal with social issues and personal challenges which, though not unique to
African-Americans, are explored from an African-American viewpoint (“An Interview with Maya Angelou” 286-292). In "Still I Rise" Dr. Angelou is talking directly to her oppressors about her personal struggles in overcoming racism, sexism, and the fear of failure. The poem is her anthem in that it highlights how she has triumphed over the pain of prejudices. The poem is also full of pride and humble recognition as it mentions the history, “Out of the huts of history’s shame,” (Angelou) of

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