Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry with Sweet Tea

I read this entire collection of poetry in one sitting. I didn’t want to, I wanted to stop and ponder, but I couldn’t. I was too caught up in her voice and couldn’t bring myself to stop. I will admit that some of the poems went over my head. I’m sure they needed time to sit and be thought upon. Others were revelations that I read twice just to hear the truth or beauty come off the page.

I don’t recommend reading poetry quickly and I fully intended to read this collection again. Right now, I cannot pick a favorite. Maya Angelou writes with humanity, passion, love, anger, pain and hope. Her words speak to me differently at different times. I honestly don’t think I will ever have a favorite, but as a woman, it is nearly impossible not to love Phenomenal Woman. 

Read Maya Angelou. Read her slowly and soak in her words. Devour them like they will soothe your hunger. Read Maya Angelou.

Personally, I think sweet tea is a perfect compliment to poetry. Sweet yet bitter but always refreshing.

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They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky with Rooibos Tea

This book, y’all. Three of the “Lost Boys” of the Sudan tell their stories of survival as they left their homes as young boys facing war, genocide, and almost certain death. It is so powerful to hear their perspective as children. Their stories left me broken and yet amazed at the strength of the human spirit.

These children faced circumstances that seem impossible to survive. They face their death repeatedly and somehow never lose the will to live. It reminded me that people can become used to anything. That human trait of accepting circumstances can be lifesaving, but it also has a very dark underbelly. Although the kindness of strangers often saved their lives, inconceivable acts of violence were the cause of their harm. At one point a man emptied his bowels on the bag of one of the boys and then started beating him. This type of cruelty was always explained as being a result of war.  It seems that humanity can become so used to the violence of war that it continues into all aspects of life.

I wonder too, about becoming too accustomed to comfort. Does that cause us to lose our ability to care for each other? The boys survived the refugee camp by caring for each other. Do we show that kind of care? We certainly are not showing that care for refugees or those suffering. This is not some distant piece of history and there are still Sudanese refugees living in refugee camps. What about refugees from Syria or other war-torn areas? How can we do more?

But, I am off topic. They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky is simply a must read and will obviously cause you do some serious thinking about humanity. I recommend reading it with Rooibos tea. The earthy vanilla is a perfect compliment to a book that leaves your tongue dry and your mouth yearning for a drink.

Vintage Hughes with Sweet Tea

I have read a few poems by  Langston Hughes in the past, but it was always a rushed experience. When I checked Vintage Hughes out of the library, I knew I needed to take my time and truly give my attention to the works of Langston Hughes. His poetry and short stories are lyrical, moving, and resonating.

Although I majored in English, poetry has never been my favorite. The more I focus on creativity, the more I enjoy it, but I am still new to enjoying poetry. Langston Hughes, however, writes in a style that is so alive and honest that it is impossible to not love it. Sometimes the poems are heartbreaking, other times inspiring, and most of the time just painfully honest. The three short stories are filled with perfect detail, beautifully deep characters, and plots that remain with you long after you have finished reading.

I recommend reading Hughes out-loud, the poetry is so rhythmic that something is missed if it is read silently. I read to myself in the car, in my back yard as my son played, snuggled in blankets on the couch and each place was filled with the truth of Hughes. It was cathartic to read out loud poetry that addresses racism while sitting in my yard in the South. These issues are still alive and it was good to speak the words and to feel their truth.

Read Hughes. Read Hughes out loud. Feel the rhythm and weight of his words.

I liked reading it with sweet tea because it’s summer in the South. The drink was refreshing and the writing was honest — it was a good combination.