Maya Angelou – An enlightened glow in the world of literature

Published: May 29, 2014

RIP Maya Angelou. Our world just lost another great laureate.

RIP Maya Angelou. Our world just lost another great laureate. RIP Maya Angelou. Our world just lost another great laureate.

When I read the news about Maya Angelou’s death yesterday, I felt a small ache in my heart. Our world lost another great laureate this year, Gabriel Garcia Marquez being the first.

Angelou’s work is commendable. For me, she was a woman who had seen all facades of life and with her vast intellect, she enriched our literary world. She has published seven autobiographies and various books of poetry. Her books give a deep insight to her childhood and early adult experiences. Her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1969 which was a narrative of her life till she was 17-years-old. It was this book of hers that garnered her immense global acclaim and popularity.

Angelou’s journey as a woman inspires me. Prior to becoming a poet and a writer, she worked in an array of occupations that weren’t easy for an African American and especially for a woman. While growing up, she was a fry cook, a performer and a night club dancer. Later on, she worked as a journalist during the era of decolonisation in Ghana and Egypt. She was also a director, actor, playwright and producer for many TV shows, movies and plays. Having worked with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr she was an active member of the civil rights movement.

One of my favourite poems by Angelou is ‘Still I Rise’, which reads as,

“You may write me down in history,

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt,

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

This poem always lifts me up; I guess I relate to it in a personal way. However, if you read the entire poem, it will seem as though you are reading lyrics to a hip hop song. Speaking of which, I read some interesting articles on how she influenced the hip hop and rap circuits. She is also acknowledged as a ‘mother figure’ for various artists who have tried to emulate her poetic substance into their music. Artists like Q-Tip, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West and many others have looked up to the works of Angelou.

Yesterday, with the news of her passing away, various celebrities reacted by tweeting in their condolences and expressing the loss of a phenomenal multi-talented artist such as herself. There is no doubt in my mind that she was revolutionary in her writings. Her numerous quotes that can be seen being shared on social media speak volumes of the enlightened soul that she was.

‘Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud’ is one of my most favourite Angelou quotes. It makes me want to say a silent prayer for her to rest in eternal peace, while thanking her for gracing the world with her eminent glow.


Zara Hafeez

Zara Hafeez

A digital marketer, writer, a history buff, volunteer for humanitarian causes for The James Caan Foundation, UNICEF Promise for Children, among others and a tea-aholic. She tweets as @zara_hafeez (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.