In middle school, my English teacher did a poetry unit. While books had always been a love of mine, poetry was another story. In poetry, there were no groups of children living in a train, or girls meeting to create a baby-sitter’s club. Moreover, I had no interest in trying to figure out what the author was trying to tell me. I firmly believed that when an author stated the room was red, they meant the room was painted red.
But then I read Caged Bird by Maya Angelou.
The simple but powerful imagery Angelou created was riveting. I did not suddenly fall in love with poetry. I had no urge to go out and compose my own book of sonnets, or drive my mother crazy attempting to rhyme every word I said. But for a few moments, without being prodded by a teacher or forced to choose an answer on a standardized test, I paused and appreciated the poem. For the words Maya Angelou needed to say, and the hope that a caged bird could have, despite its anguish.
“The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still.”
To this day, one of my favorite pieces of advice comes from Dr. Angelou: “When you know better, you do better.” On May 28th we lost the courageous woman who made us all know a little better. You can find a display cart dedicated to her works located across from the Information Desk.