I picked up Maya Angelou's collection of poetry And Still I Rise randomly one day when I was out and about in London.
However, it was only after watching the 'Imagine' documentary on BBC iPlayer that I got to understand her, as an individual. It was here that I was introduced to her unique poetical style.
After watching this I just knew that I had to read the book, which I had purchased six months prior. So, I got myself a drink, settled into a comfy reading chair, so that I could fully absorb myself into Mrs Angelou's words - and I was certainly not disappointed.
Actually, rather the opposite - I was captivated. Captivated by her words, captivated by her imagery, captivated by her very presence. I was enthralled from start to finish.
When I put the book down after a couple of hours my partner asked me, "so, how was it?" And all I could think of to say was, "Incredible."
Mrs Angelou's writing was so vivid that I felt I was there experiencing everything she was saying. The use of her Southern American twang and colloquialisms made it feel honest, realistic and heartfelt - in essence I believed every word she said, and more importantly, I believed that she believed in every word that was written.
The use of the various technical devices; such as alliteration, metaphors, similes and rhyming couplets - to name a few, did not detract from the messaging and meaning of each piece. Usually I find that when such devices are used they tend to overtake the poem, and therefore the messaging becomes second to the devices used. But in Mrs Angelou's case they were masterfully used as an aid to enhance the imagery being created behind the messaging of each of the poems within the collection.
Throughout the book Mrs Angelou uses varying poetical styles - from standardised rhyming schemes to streams of consciousness. All these differing poetical forms and structures kept me on my toes. I did not know what was coming next or what to expect. Each form was carefully tailored to each piece - again heightening their uniqueness.
What was interesting was that the book comprised of three sections - Touch Me, Life, Softly, Traveling and And Still I Rise/Shaker Why Don't You Sing? Within these sections they comprised of poems covering a variety of topic areas; from her growing up as a young girl in Missouri - to campaigning for civil and women's rights.
I gave this book five stars because essentially it had everything. It's honest realism really struck a chord with me. Read this book - it will fill your heart and open your mind...