Updated: Apr 7
Originally posted on April 4th 2018, then revised in June 2018
Dear Maya Angelou,
Today is your birthday, so I thought I would write a letter to you. The art of letter writing seems to be lost in this day and age, but I’m aware of the power of a letter and the power of words and expressions. You are 90 years old and Google has dedicated their homepage to you. What an honour. The doodle was very well done, so kudos to the Illustrator. I watched the video they created and I must say I was impressed and delighted. Amidst your voice, your poem “Still I Rise” was recited by singer Alicia Keys, actress America Ferrera, superstar and your dear friend Oprah Winifrey and your son, Guy Johnson. It was beautifully done and to me it’s proof that you’re still here with us. Back in April of 2018, I wrote a blog about you and I remember saying “One thing I know for sure, she will be with us for generations to come.” It’s been 4 years, but to me that is still true.
As a child and a teenager, I read your work and it didn’t take me long to realise the inner beauty and grace you possessed, but also the gifts you had that you were not afraid to use. As a young woman, my titles are growing. I'm a Black British/ Afro Caribbean Author, Photographer, YouTuber, Fashion Designer and Motivational Leader. But when looking at you, and back at myself, I see a successful woman who is also a child of God, a woman of faith and I'm inspired to keep going forward.
I want to say thank you for all of the art/ the great works of art that you released into the world. Through your work you portrayed love, kindness, joy and dignity. You showed the world what really matters and you brought light to life. I have always loved reading and writing, but when I read your poems and your writings as a teenager; something happened to me. You taught me something and you helped me pass my English Literature A Levels. I will get to “I Know Why A Caged Bird Sings” in a minute.
Thank you for telling the world, especially women (women of all ages) that we are all phenomenal and wonderfully made. It’s something that God tells us all the time, like in Psalms 139, but it seems that when it came from you, an intelligent woman, your charm and power made us actually believe it. Through your work you gave us a new confidence and I'm forever grateful.
Your autobiography, I Know Why A Caged Bird Sings is an impeccable book. I loved reading it, but most of all I chose it and studied it in more depth than I did any book at the tender age of 17. I used it for my English Literature coursework, so I analysed it line by line. I looked at the Literature techniques you used, the describing words and the way you made me picture things in my mind. I’ll never forget, I compared the female character of you, Marguerite Johnson to Lucy Honeychurch from the book A Room With A View. You were by far my favourite character, and I really felt sorry for you, but it was an astonishing book and story. I ended my coursework by saying “the same goes for Marguerite in “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, as she is given a voice, which means that her opinions are counted for something and her life finally has meaning.” You had a purpose, and just like my new book, Measures Of Purpose In Life, you lived in your purpose and you fulfilled it tremendously.
Following this letter to you, Dr Maya Angelou, I feel like reading I Know Why A Caged Bird Sings again. I’m doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge this year, so it would be 1 out of 12 books. 3 down and 9 to go. I think I'll re-read it. I would say I look forward to hearing from you, but your poems and writings are like letters to my soul.
To all of you that read my letter to Dr Maya Angelou, be blessed and be inspired. #MayaAngelou
Kayisha Thomas xox