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Snippet of Maya Angelou's "I Still Rise"

From Audio: Maya Angelou's "I Still Rise"

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station description An audio anthology of the best poetry ever written
The Daily Poem
Duration: 05:36
Host of The Daily Poem podcast, David Kern, recite's one of Maya Angelou's most famous poems, "I Still Rise". Afterwards, he goes on to discuss reactions to the poem and a bit of her life story.
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Host of The Daily Poem podcast, David Kern, recite's one of Maya Angelou's most famous poems, "I Still Rise". Afterwards, he goes on to discuss reactions to the poem and a bit of her life story.
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Today's poem is by Maya Angelou. Born Marguerite Annie Johnson. She lived from April of 1928 to May of 2014, and she is one of the most popular and essential American writers of the 20th century. She's known for books like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gathered Together in My Name, The Heart of a Woman and a Song Flung Up to Heaven. She was nominated full Pulitzer Prize in 1971 for her poetry volume. Just give me a Cool Drink of water Fore I Die. The poem that I'm gonna read today is one of her best known poems is called Still I Rise goes like this. You may write me Down in history with your bitter, twisted lies you may trod on me in the very dirt, but still like dust. I'll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? Because I walked like I've got oil wells pumping in my living room just like moons and like Sund with the certainty of ties just like hopes springing high. Still, I'll rise. Do 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 Because I laughed like I've got gold mines digging in my own backyard. 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 danced 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. This poem, still I Rise was published in 1978 and since then has become one of the most well known popular poems in American letters. It's been used in commercials in marketing campaigns in movies, um, in in all sorts of context. Many of you maybe even started in school. If you studied any African American literature, then you probably did. In 2000 and eight, um, NPR interviewed Angelou, and in that interview she said that about this poem quote, You know, if you're lonely, you feel you've been done down. It's nice to have and still I rise End quote. And if you read a little bit about Angelou's biography, you you know that she experienced a great deal of trauma as a child. Um, she grew up in the Jim Crow south on That was, of course, awful enough. But when she was seven, she was, um, she was abused by her mother's boyfriend, who was subsequently killed. Um, according to what I've read, they think that that that he may have been killed by a family member who was after revenge and in the midst of all this, Angelou then didn't speak. Um, she wouldn't speak as she. She wouldn't speak out loud or publicly, but she would write. That was that was a means of coping and processing for her. She studied lots of poetry. She studied poets like Paul, Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes and even Emily Dickinson and William Shakespeare and the greatest poets of the English language and that poetry helped her process helped her rise helped her have courage. Eventually she began to write her own pros and her own poetry. She joined the Harlem Writers Guild. She got to know James Baldwin and, um, she became one of the preeminent figures of American literature, and she gave voice to so many people who felt, as she describes in that quote to NPR Done down and Thats poem became a sort of anthem for so many people. And I think it's become an anthem for so many people because on the one hand it is it is sad and full of longing because it doesn't shy away from the things that the slaves and their descendants experienced. It doesn't belittle that experience or shy away from it. It states it. It says it out loud. It confronts it. And so there's a sort of ostentatious nous in doing that, Um, and yet it's also ah, it's not just naming that trial naming that trouble. It's also saying, despite this trouble, despite this, these things that we have experienced for so long despite what you can do to us and continue to do to us. We will continue to rise to continue to stand up. And so for all that, especially this time I wanted to share. Still, I rise with you. So here is once more Maya Angelou's Still I Rise. That would encourage you to check out more about her life. You can find her reading this poem online, which is, of course, a different and better experience than me reading it. But hopefully my reading, it will point you in her direct.
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