Monday, February 22, 2021

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (1928―2014) is a popular American poet, famous for the seven autobiographies she wrote, beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) which first brought her fame.

She started her performance career as a dancer in the 1950s, touring Europe in a production of Porgy and Bess, releasing an album, and singing her own songs in the 1957 film Calypso Heat Wave. She was an active supporter of Martin Luther King Jr. after hearing him speak at a Harlem church in 1960. Years later she read one of her poems at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

There is a poem in circulating on the internet called “I am a Christian” falsely attributed to Angelou. She was sometimes hesitant to make such a claim, seeing it as a declaration of having achieved holiness. She did say, though,
-----“I have always tried to find myself a church. I have studied
-----everything. I spent some time with Zen Buddhism and Judaism
-----and I spent some time with Islam. I am a religious person. It
-----is my spirit, but I found that I really want to be a Christian.
-----That is what my spirit seems to be built on. I just know that
-----I find the teachings of Christ so accessible. I really believe
-----that Christ made a sacrifice and for those reasons I want to be
-----a Christian.”


Petulant priests, greedy
centurions, and one million
incensed gestures stand
between your love and me.

Your agape sacrifice
is reduced to colored glass,
vapid penance, and the
tedium of ritual.

Your footprints yet
mark the crest of
billowing seas but
your joy
fades upon the tablets
of ordained prophets.

Visit us again, Savior.
Your children, burdened with
disbelief, blinded by a patina
of wisdom,
carom down this vale of
fear. We cry for you
although we have lost
your name.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.