Before you all snore off, I want you to know that this isn’t what you think it is. I am not going to post some fluff related to those poets you are fed during GCSE English classes, but I think it is important to take advantage of today and promote the power of poetry and spoken word. I love words. I am a closet Shakespeare fanatic and I think that reading opens the mind and the ears.
Hiphop is my music of choice when it comes to thinking and I have had many an epiphany whilst listening to the words of lyricists such as Lupe Fiasco, Immortal Technique, Lowkey, KRS One, Logic, Kanye West (“Bitch-ass niggas got ass and breasts” is not the kind of thing I am talking about, think “Family Business”, “Sierra Leone” and “Jesus Walks”.)
Asides from political hiphop, I shed a tear the first time I heard Adele’s “Someone like you” because the words were so perfect and as James Corden said when introducing her at the Brit awards “There’s nothing quite like the feeling when you’re listening to a song, written by someone you don’t know, who you’ve never met, who somehow manages to describe exactly how you have felt at a particular moment in your life”.
When I was about seven years old I got an anthology of poems by Benjamin Zephaniah. His poems broke from the norm and were about crazy subjects like toothbrushes and the Jamaican essence shone through in his work. This unlocked my imagination and thus began my love-affair with words and poetry.
I was once a Twitter-sceptic, but I have realised that it is an amazing tool for sharing words and using words, and one of the best points about it is that every letter counts. You have 140 characters to make your point, so each vowel and consonant has value and cannot be wasted. If you look closely, that is something that all good writers do. (Take note from my homeboy Shakespeare if you don’t believe me).
Words are powerful and today I just wanted to share some of my favourite poems with you, in the hope that these words might have a positive effect on your day. Here are two of my favourite poems by Maya Angelou. Have a nice day and use your words wisely.
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.
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It’s 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
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
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
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.