What Would Maya Do? (By J. Ivy)


Renowned poet and author J. Ivy reflects on the life lessons of lyrical legend Maya Angelou

Today the world took a deep breath, paused, and smiled at what she left. Poet, author, writer, director, actress, activist, and professor, Dr. Maya Angelou had an amazing way of connecting to us all. She connected us all. No matter your ethnicity, your religious belief, your gender, or your age, she penetrated your way of thinking, shifting and guiding us with her passion and insight. Fear was never heard in her words. Her honesty, her vulnerability carried an indescribable strength, a strength that inspired us to look inside and ignite our own. The undeniable beauty of her work made you want to write your own. She pulled at our heart’s cords and moved us to push the pen. She breathed new life and birthed the playgrounds our creativity would play in. She nurtured us with hope. She planted peaceful seeds that would sprout in our ideas. She became the Mother of our Words. Sweet Maya moved us. She awakened us. She transformed us. She placed us in a new light. We all wanted to shine like her. We wanted to rhyme like her. When we discovered her, we discovered the artist within. Whether you rapped, sang, or wrote poetry, she ignited a love in you that motivated you to create new worlds. She taught us that words have an immeasurable power. She made you think deeply about each letter you chose to place on the page. There lied a challenge to construct the perfect stanzas, the perfect phrase, and the perfect quotes. What will make the people think? What will make people jump up from their depressions, their woes, and their heartaches? What will make someone go against the strain of any grain and do something spectacular? What would lift people? What would inspire people? What would move people? What will make me break the chains of life’s challenges? What would Maya do? Over time she wrote a revolution. Minds spun and opened at every graceful stroke she penned. Elegance embraced her energy. She was electric. Angelically she touched our souls. Her poems became our prayers. She gave us an undying hope to believe, to dream. Love was the force that drove her so we fell in love with her over and over and over again. Her voice was our calm in the storm. Her gift was our warm in the cold… For generations, she led us with her grace. From our parent’s and teacher’s introductions to her, to every following line that she uttered, Dr. Angelou touched us with her light, raising our vibrations. She pulled back the steel curtain that shaded our power. She helped us discover the majesty inside. She helped us recognize our worth and our value. The blues she put in print became our blueprint. She turned her misery into works of art that the world will forever admire. When she spoke, without force, we silenced our minds and listened intensely. Without hesitation world leaders gave her the floor. And when the future ask why, we’ll tell them because she was a beautiful giant, perfectly, poetically, pirouetting on timelines. She wrote her way into souls. She was a lifeline, which is why her voice, her ideals, and her wisdom became our fuel, our food for the soul, our antidote for our pain. She was beautiful. She was priceless. This un-caged bird still rises, singing with a rhythm that beats like God’s heart. Her phenomenal truth will echo endlessly…

Read J. Ivy’s “Sweet, Sweet Maya” here