Mia Morris, Well Placed Consultancy on Maya's Poem

"The poem 'To A Phenomenal Woman', reminds us all the importance of appreciating our differences and gives glimpses of what really is possible if we all work hard together. Maya Angelou always receives a rapturous applause wherever this is performed.

I have attended events where other poets have done renditions but it is really not the same&&..my only hope is that young people also get the opportunity to explore their creativity, read all they can and observe life."

Alice Peters, London Regional Co-ordinator, Supplementary Schools Support Service - on Maya's Poem

"What a fabulous poem ­ although I am still (relatively) young, I have stuck this on the wall in my office as I know that my time is coming& and although I know all of the points raised - as I get older I am prone to forgetting some of the core things in life(!). I pray that, as my mother has done, I may one day also become a Phenomenal Woman."

To A Phenomenal Woman (Extract)

by Maya Angelou

When I was in my younger days,
I weighed a few pounds less,
I needn't hold my tummy in
to wear a belted dress.

But now that I am older,
I've set my body free;
There's comfort of elastic
Where once my waist would be.

Inventor of those high-heeled shoes
My feet have not forgiven;
I have to wear a nine now,
But used to wear a seven.

And how about those pantyhose--
They're sized by weight, you see,
So how come when I put them on
The crotch is at my knee?

I need to wear these glasses
As the print's been getting smaller;
And it wasn't very long ago
I know that I was taller.

Though my hair has turned to gray
and my skin no longer fits,
On the inside, I'm the same old me,
the outside's changed a bit.

On a positive note...

I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life."
I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.
I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.
People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.

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.

Thelma Sutton (04/02/03)
on Maya's poem

A knowing smile sweeps across my face
bringing out the wrinkles on my outer eyes -
not Crows feet.

With a sigh of compliance,
I can stop deluding myself that by summer,
I will slip back into that size twelve.

To stop buying outfits in the sale which
Hang there, and will never fit.

So my size six shoe to a size seven
Is part of a natural phenomena?
And may even yet be reaching for size eight.

But I'm not quite ready yet
to give up my high heels -
a flat pair conveniently tucked for comfort in my bag.

As for lingerie -
Thank goodness for the M & S
Control and ego underwear range.

And Maya's words will remind me -
When I lose the fight with gravity,
That I'm the same 'old' me.

So wherever I've been,
And whatever I've become,
To find the me that is the me,
Before that time comes.


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