Poetry’s evocative nature in 'A Phenomenal Woman'

A vital aspect of human literature, poetry fosters the impeccable capability to correctly layer both the emotional and psychological urges of an individual through poetic devices. A poem is the perfect form of expression because it indulges the creativity of the writer. Other genres of writing like prose, forbid styling as it is piled up with sentences and paragraphs. Poetic essence like rhythm, assonance, simile, metaphor, and personification stimulates the subtlety of the expression of the poet and makes it enticing to the readers. Without unveiling much of the story Maya Angelou through her masterpiece ‘Phenomenal Woman’ presented her conviction that ‘Beauty is more than skin deep’ which became a universal anthem for women. Through the poem, she circulated her emotional theme of confidence to answer and persuade women in society. The poem concealed the integrity of her theme under its lyrical voice by acknowledging the sensitivity of the issue.

Theme and background of the poem

  • Published in 1995 the lyrical poem upholds a universal message that ‘Beauty is more than skin deep’.
  • It conveys to the world of convention and stereotypes that empowerment comes from being confident in your own female skin, no matter if you are not seen as cute or fashionable by the masses.
  • The American author actually wrote the poem to influence African-American women with confidence.
  • In those days women have designated a place in society depending on their appearance. Women were desperate to shape themselves into thin model sizes to look appealing and feel confident.
  • Through poetry, she detected each part of the female body as beauty and a matter of glory which captured the eyes of women all over the world struggling to feel confident due to their appearance.

Why did Maya choose poetry to express?

  • Poetry helped her to develop the theme by utilizing various devices; it is playful and can be presented as a rhyming song.
  • The poem is the best and easiest way to circulate a statement throughout nations and cultures by using ethos, pathos, and logos.
  • In her autobiography, Maya disclosed that she chose poetry because it helped her to cope with trauma. Poetry helped her to vocal her thoughts without actually speaking.
  • She used the poem to present an answer to a hypothetical question.
  • Poetry allowed her to express why in spite of being a black and average-looking woman she is still so confident.

Discussion, popularity, and relevance of the poem

  • It is in the list of mandatory prescribed textbooks for students in numerous schools of Asia.
  • Menna Harris’s Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, an initiative inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem. It has a special mentioning in Vogue Australia.
  • TEDx Talks payed tribute to Maya Angelou cause of her masterpiece ‘Phenomenal Women’.
  • Oprah Winfrey discusses the poem in an episode of SuperSoul Sunday featured at channel OWN.

Poetry’s evocative nature plays a crucial role. Maya could express her theme of confidence by containing the sensitivity of the issue through the relaxed and playful rhythm of poetry. Under those swing and lyrical waves of words, her theme is vivid and enticing. She uses the repetition technique ‘phenomenal women’ to make the theme clear and dialects a message through the vein of every woman that they are phenomenal irrespective of their appearance. It is easy to narrate one’s emotions through poetry because it grants the use of manipulative language which includes the technique of twisting and distorting the story. Maya’s work is a depiction of how with simplicity a poem can creatively present a strong influential expression.

29 April 2022
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