Dr. Maya Angelou Reads ‘Phenomenal Woman’


Dr Maya Angelou’s physical being has passed.  I know that her spirit lives on and I love the idea that she is now available as an energetic guide to those whom invite her into their space. I also understand how much her presence and creative expression will be missed in physical world.

So much of what Dr Maya has written speaks straight to my heart. Her poem “Still I Rise” is one that has inspired me, time and again, through each experience and healing from specific incidents of abuse.  When I felt like ‘nothing’ I would look externally to reflections of natural brilliance to remind me of whom I was and what I was made of, and how shining that light could open doors to peace and possibility. This poem was one that encouraged and inspired me, each time I read it.

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread 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.

Maya Angelou

“Everyone you admire has taken one step after the other, as each one revealed the next. As I said in another article: Gandhi didn’t just wake up one day and think:”Why don’t I hop on over and free India today?” That’s not how it works. You are guided along the way, also through synchronicity: Are you listening? Are you letting your inspiration move you and act through you? an excerpt from “Phenomenal Woman! Tribute to Dr Maya Angelou!” by Tanya von Zychlinksy (I love the feel of this tribute by Tanya!)

we wonder what our gifts are..
we feel we don’t have a gift..
we know specifically what our gift is but we choose not to share it either at all or as much as our heart nudges us to.

May you listen to Maya Angelou’s words, as she reads Phenomenal Woman, remember her spirit and invite yourself to live your heart whispers and share your gifts, fully, *now*.

Dear Reader: May you share which of Dr. Maya Angelou’s poems have touched your heart? And, if you would like to share your thoughts and feelings on the experience of death and/or passing, you may also do so. (when you share, you inspire)

Much peace and abundant love,


 Reminder: Linger. Savor. Relish.

If you enjoy photography, and/or the exploration of presence to wonder, beauty, light, peace, joy in your daily life, you might wish to participate in the new session of  I Believe in Magic: 30-day Photo Journey. Class begins June 1st (this Sunday). Registration is open through June 3, 2014. I do hope you choose to join in the fun!

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Comments on: "Dr. Maya Angelou Reads ‘Phenomenal Woman’" (8)

  1. Dear Joy,

    What a beautiful tribute and celebration. I haven’t read much of Maya Angelou’s writing, but I’ve been inspired by her presence.

    I’m curious how you know this: “I know that her spirit lives on and I love the idea that she is now available as an energetic guide to those whom invite her into their space.”

    Yes, I believe everyone’s spirit lives on, but do we know what their spirit might endure in the afterlife? Do we know what form they might take?

    How can we know for sure that her spirit is available as an energetic guide?

    • Thank you for your question, Sandra.

      I can say “I know” her spirit lives on and *I love* the idea that she is now available as an energetic guide because that is my experience with energy and spirit; that is my heart-truth. For you (or anyone else) to know might require some research or examination of your own heart-truth. I can’t say what *you know for sure* or what ‘we know’ because I can’t speak for all of us. I was simply sharing what I know from my life experience.

      At base, we are all energy. The energy simply changes form. I (or you or anyone) can call upon / tap into energy at any time. I (or you or anyone) may tap into the essence of Dr Maya’s energy while creating (as I mentioned in the article, her words inspired me greatly as I moved through a few specific experiences in life). I can still continue to do so, now, regardless of what form her energy takes having passed from this physical world. Does she wish to be my guide, in particular? I will ask for her energy to be present in specific experiences moving forward.

      I do hope that others read your question and answer.

  2. Thanks for this beautiful tribute, Joy :) She really was/is a phenomenal woman, in physical body or in spirit.

    I remember reading her autobiography series and being awed by the grace and dignity of her bearing, despite some horrific external circumstances. I will miss her voice – when she read, or spoke, it soothed my soul. Luckily we have recordings of her as a legacy, to remind us of her courage and immense power.

    Big Love,

    • Thank you, Jenny, for mentioning the energies of grace and dignity. I love the feel of this *when she read or spoke, it soothed my soul*.

      Part of what I am feeling into with this experience is the invitation to create from our hearts – to leave the legacy of our heart-truths shared as creative expression for all whom wish to tap into that energy now and whenever they wish.

      Big love to you, as well!

  3. Jean Sampson said:

    I love who she was and is! I was privileged to be gifted a ticket to see her when she was in town at a theater near the art center, and I fell completely in love with her. I have asked if she will be my guide, not only as a writer, but as someone who cares about people and their well-being, as she did and does! She herself truly was a phenomenal woman!

    • Wow, Jean – I cannot imagine the energy of Dr Maya in person! I am so glad you were gifted that ticket!

      Since you mentioned calling in Dr Maya as a guide, perhaps you might look at Sandra’s question and reply to it? I would love to hear your reflection.

  4. Jean Sampson said:

    Well, Joy, I don’t “know” anything, really, but, I find myself talking to my old mentor and friend, Morton Traylor, every day that I am in my studio and whenever I teach. I had no idea of all of the things he taught me, enough to last a lifetime and also to share with others. His heart wanted to share his love of and knowledge of art with his students and give them everything he knew and felt. Well, I absorbed a lot more than I thought impossible (he always said that if I didn’t understand something when he taught it, to put it is my “deep freezer” and, when I needed it, I could thaw it out! I think he is adding to the stuff in the freezer all of the time and is still giving me words and thoughts (“Where the heck did THAT come from??”) all of the time because I am carrying on his dream which has become a dream of mine, to pass on what he knew with modifications from what I have figured out. I love people and want the very best for them and so did Dr. Maya. I think, when I am in a position to interrupt racism (which I have been in), I can call on her to help me, because she knew exactly how to do THAT! So, that is just my feelings about the subject, Sandra and Joy:) Love to you BOTH! :)

    • Wow, Jean – *thank you* for sharing! I smile as I think of this ‘deep freezer’. I am grateful for Morton’s presence in your life because your painting process inspires me in so many ways!

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