" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

January 14, 2008

Maya Angelou

Poet Maya Angelou was being interviewed by Evan Solomon on CBC Television last night and he was asking her about her decision to back Hillary Clinton. His questions seemed pretty simplistic. I'm sure he was aware of their simplicity, setting her up with questions such as "You've spent your whole life in the civil rights movement, you worked alongside Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, why would you back a white woman?"

He asked her about the conversation she must have had with Oprah who is backing Barack Obama.

And then we got to hear her wonderful responses and how she articulates them in as few words as necessary, in this case saying "Because I'm an intelligent person. I'm intelligent and I can think therefore, intelligently, and I'm picking the person who in my mind is the best based on my own criteria."

In the end, he asked her if she had a poem that might capture where the U.S. as a country was at this moment in history. This is the one she recited and to see her, at 80 yrs of age, find this one among all the poems she has written over the years and recite it from memory was to see what we get to see so rarely on television; what the words "reality television" should really mean.
Here's the poem.

Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

by Maya Angelou
Watch the Interview

No comments: