Welcome to this week’s Bookish Parley!
Words stare back at me and there are moments. Quiet, still moments reverberating off the walls of my heart as minutes pass and I am reminded of the intricate parts of myself. The parts I’ve shared few times that have unraveled into my lap often, strings and ribbons of the quilts of my life, I still find myself learning from and understanding.
This is how I feel often when reading the words of others when their words so clearly ring true of a sheer human quality that leaves me breathless; sometimes out of fear of facing my own humanity, my own bout with darkness from a past that I feel oftentimes exists outside of myself. Yet I know is a piece of me, now whole and soaking in light day by day. I say all this because these are some of the emotions I had going into I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Dr. Maya Angelou.
Before I knew who Maya Angelou was, as a child I always held such deep respect and honor for this woman I’d only seen through pictures and rambles of words that always seemed to resound with “Phenomenal Woman.” I was unaware of her strength, her story, her beauty, and sense of self that remained unwavering in the face of past darkness, pain, and misunderstanding.
As I grew older I became more aware of this woman, with a voice like maple syrup, dark and deep, reminiscent of silk and velvet, more aware of her story, only in parts, but never wholly forming all of the pieces together. I was hesitant to go deeper because I knew of the pain that lay in her story and didn’t want to go there. This year that changed. I gathered all of the gumption I had and picked up the Kindle version of the book I ordered years ago for my college senior paper (my senior paper situation is a story of a whole other time) and delved into a story so unlike anything I’ve ever read.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a breath heavy to inhale as oxygen lies in wait to be received by lungs in want of life. The wonder I held for this woman as a child only grew with each page and each story. I was trapped, lovingly so, in syllables and the rhythm of pages detailing events from the dirt roads of Arkansas to the cityfied area of California.
Between the stories of her childhood and Mama and Bailey and so many others, I laughed and smiled, I cringed, and felt the searing pain of hurt while wading through the deep end of darkness and confusion only to come out the other end utterly amazed and emboldened.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first best-selling novel of Maya Angelou. The FIRST one y’all! And I must say that it is quite literally one of the best pieces of non-fiction I have read in my 23 years of life. This book is powerful, beautiful, and heart-wrenching, but it leaves the reader with the truth that life is worth living, life does get better, all we have to do is keep living.
As one of my friends always says, 10/10 would recommend. If you have never read the work of Dr. Maya Angelou, pick up this book, read her poems online, and discover a woman resilient and beautiful, and wise.
If you’ve ever read this book, let me know down in the comments what you think! I’d love to have a discussion!
Stay creative, sweet readers,