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Maya Angelou - Phenomenal Woman

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Grace James

on 16 September 2014

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Transcript of Maya Angelou - Phenomenal Woman

· One of the most renowned and influential voices of our time.

· A celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist.

· Born on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri.

· Raised in St Louis and Stamp, Arkansas.

· In Stamps, Dri Angelou experienced the brutality of racial discrimination but also the dedicated faith and values of tradition African-American families and communities.

· As a teenager, Angelou won a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco’s Labor School.

· Has received over 50 honorary degrees and is a Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.

· Angelou has won 3 Grammies as well as a number of other honours such as the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000.
· She is also bilingual, after studying with great dedication and has mastered five languages included French, Spanish and Arabic.

What did we learn about the poet?
What is the message or theme of the poem?

“Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou celebrates femininity and highlights the traits necessary for a woman to become ‘phenomenal.’

· She believes that it’s not the outer beauty of a person but the inner beauty which makes each woman beautiful and special.

· Maya also criticizes and challenges the biased expectations and standards created by society that expects women to be perfect and possess all the traits of this so called “perfection”.

· The poem also explores confidence, and conveys to the audience that no matter how a woman looks, if she carries herself in a way that shows she has pride in herself and won’t let anything or anyone bring her down, she is truly phenomenal as she is willing to overcome society’s standards and be happy within herself.

How is the message conveyed?
What is the poem about?
Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” asserts the theme that ‘Beauty is more than skin deep.’ She refutes the theory that beautiful women should have well proportioned physique. She disapproves the distorted view of beauty, which emphasizes more on outer beauty than inner beauty. She argues that true beauty lies within and body language is the medium through which it is expressed.
By Izzy and Grace
Maya Angelou - Phenomenal Woman
Maya Angelou has used imagery skillfully and vividly to create a ‘mental image’ of a woman who is self-confident, loves herself and is proud being a woman. The examples of imagery are given below,
*I am not cute or built to suit fashion model’s size
*The curl of my lips
*The swing of my waist
*The ride of my breasts
*The stride of my steps
*The flash of my teeth
*The sun of my smile
*The palm of my hand
*the joy of my feet
Thus, we see the poet has used imagery to describe her whole body from head to feet and her behavioral patterns which make her a ‘phenomenal woman.’
The poem represents irony in the way the poet thinks about beauty and how the world perceives it. The poet is an African-American. She has experienced racial discrimination, rape and oppression in America. The American standard of beauty is to have fair color, sharp features and blue eyes. But the African American women do not conform to these standards. On the other hand, Maya Angelou believes that inner beauty is the real beauty of a woman. She feels confident in her curvaceous body and huge physique. She finds joy in her womanhood.
‘I’m a woman, phenomenally’.
"The stride of my breasts."
The flash of my teeth
The last four lines of the first three stanzas of the poem, “Phenomenal Woman” should be noted,-
“I am woman,
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”
These lines are again repeated at the end of the last stanza but with the addition of a ‘cause’,-
“Cause, I am woman,
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”
The poem is about femininity and confidence so Maya Angelou uses the repeated lines as a self-assurance mantra or a way to allow this characteristic to become vitally apart of the mind and spirit. Her goal was for any woman who says them to feel like she wants to find the nearest mirror and repeat them or smiling at herself, knowing, “Yes, this is what I am.” It is also a clever use of repetition which also allows the reader to associate the poet with a phenomenal woman which also strengthens the word and title, "Phenomenal woman."
In the poem, Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou cleverly conveys her message, theme and ideas through the use of poetic devices and techniques. she used 3 specifically; Irony, Imagery and Refrain.
The tone of the poem is that of a strong, confident woman who does not bother what people think about her. She finds happiness in her womanhood. In the first three stanzas, she describes what other people think about and her reaction towards their viewpoint. She is not embarrassed about her huge physique. She considers herself a supreme woman and celebrates womanhood.
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