Phenomenal Woman, That’s Me

During my first year of college I took a class in modern poetry.  One of our assignments was to chose a poem from our collection and completely tear it apart, looking at phrasing, word choice, and even doing research on the author to see if we could determine any inspiration behind the poem.  We were told we had to write a paper about it and then be prepared to present what we found to the class.  Simple enough, right?

Well on the day the papers were due, the professor collected them and called us up one by one to read the poem we chose…but we had to read it in a way that conveyed what we discovered in our research.  As we made our way around the room, it was easy to see that many people had connected with their poem on emotional and spiritual levels, myself included.

For this project, I chose a poem by my favorite poet, Maya Angelou, titled “Phenomenal Woman.”  As I did my background research on Angelou, learning all about the abuse and ridicule she had to endure from members of her own family, it was easy to see that this poem was not only a testimony for womankind, but also a reminder to herself that, no matter what life throws at her, she is a powerful and strong woman.

Like many women out there, I’ve been blessed with a curvaceous body.  I used to be ashamed of myself, thinking of myself as fat and overweight and frumpy…but this poem completely changed my perception.  It invigorates me.  So I have hips.  So I have boobs.  So I have a pooch.  So what?  This is who I am.

When I got up in front of the class to read this poem, I started crying.  I got to the point where I wasn’t reading it for them, I was reading it for me.  I was reading it to myself.  That was the day my life changed.  That was the day I learned to be phenomenal.

This poem has been hanging on my wall ever since.  Print a copy out for yourself and make a point to read it every day to help remind yourself of how truly amazing you are.

Phenomenal Woman
By Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Come back every Tuesday for “The Bees Knees”, where I post the best quotes from my favorite movies, TV shows, songs, and books.


Filed under quotes

3 responses to “Phenomenal Woman, That’s Me

  1. Michelle T.

    I had heard bits and pieces of this poem, but never read it in its entirety.

    It gave me chills.

    Thank you.


  2. Sheehan C

    very good! you are indeed a Phenomenal Woman


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