Life lessons from the celebrated poet.
Angelou (A Song Flung Up to Heaven, 2002, etc.) doesn’t have a daughter, per se, but “thousands of daughters,” multitudes that she gathers here in a Whitmanesque embrace to deliver her experiences. They come in the shape of memories and poems, tools that readers can fashion to their needs. “Believing that life loves the liver of it, I have dared to try many things,” she writes, proceeding to recount pungent moments, stories in which her behavior sometimes backfired, and sometimes surprised even herself. Much of it is framed by the “struggle against a condition of surrender” or submission. She refuses to preach or consider her personal insights as generalized edicts. She is reminded of the charity that words and gestures bring and the liberation that comes with honesty. Lies, she notes, often spring out of fear. She cheated madness by counting her blessings. She is enlivened by those in love. She understands the uses and abuses of violence. Occasionally a bit of old-fashioned advice filters in, as during a commencement address/poem in which she urges the graduates to make a difference, to be present and accountable. The topics are mostly big, raw and exposed. Where is death’s sting? “It is here in my heart.” Overarching each brief chapter is the vital energy of a woman taking life’s measure with every step.
A slim volume packed with nourishing nuggets of wisdom.