Inspired 2 Be

Courtesy of The Root & Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Courtesy of The Root & Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Those who’ve come b4 me have left me
Inspired 2 be
Just like, just as great, and better
I’m inspired 2 be
By those who’ve raised me
Those who fought 4 me
By those who stand by me
By those who set the example
I’m inspired 2 be
Because a way has been paved 4 me
A way that may not have been
If our ancestors did not fight
2 make a better day
A better nation
A better world
A better way of living
So that we could be free
I’m inspired 2 be the best
I’m inspired 2 be the greatest
I’m inspired 2 be
10 times better than
what the masses expect me 2 be
because I have the blood of gods,
kings, queens, soldiers, warriors, pharaohs,
leaders, activists, slaves,
fighters, mothers and fathers
flowing through me
I have a legacy to live up 2
and people, spirits and most of all, myself
that I cannot let down
There4, I’ve been
Inspired 2 be

© BuddahDesmond

A Message for Christmas and Beyond in Maya Angelou’s "Amazing Peace"

Image courtesy of the Goldstar site.

 It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

~ Maya Angelou, “Amazing Peace,” 2005, Oprah.com
While Christmas has come and gone, the message in Maya Angelou’s “Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem” is one for all seasons.  Angelou’s poem, with its vivid imagery and hopeful, moving tone, is one of community, inclusion, and harmony.  
Angelou highlights the wonder and beauty of the holiday season and the universal feelings of trust, hope, kindness, forgiveness, and peace that overcome us this time of year.  Given these times of social and political unrest, there is an urging for the spirit of the holiday season to extend beyond this brief period.  There is a dire need for amazing peace all year round.  What better time than now to commit ourselves to “[celebrating] the promise of Peace” today and everyday?
Maya Angelou’s “Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem” can be read in full on Oprah.com.

Influences: Maya Angelou and Her Poetry in "Poetic Justice"

Maya Angelou’s poetry didn’t hit me immediately when my mother and I went to see John Singleton’s Poetic Justice during the summer of 1993.  It would be one year later (after seeing the film several times on cable) when Angelou’s poetry moved me in ways that were like revelations.  I was 12 then.  At that point, I was writing song lyrics mostly.  Hadn’t given much thought to writing poetry.  But there was something about Angelou’s poetry (in particular the poems featured in Poetic Justice — “Alone,” “Phenomenal Woman,” and “In A Time” to name a few) that spoke to me and gave me an even deeper appreciation for the world of arts and letters.  Shortly thereafter, I used my allowance to get a paperback copy of Maya Angelou’s Poems.  I committed myself to reading it (and occasionally reciting and memorizing selected poems from it) everyday for months.

Angleou’s poetry speaks about the human condition in a language that is universal.  Her work often has a consciousness that is (always) socially, politically, culturally, and historically relevant.  The sincerity and candor of her words continue to draw me in.  The lighthearted, comedic tone of poems like “Seven Women’s Blessed Assurance” (from I Shall Not Be Moved) consumed me with laughter and delight.  With poems like “Still I Rise,” “Amazing Peace,” “On The Pulse of Morning,” “Human Family,”  “Mother – A Cradle To Hold Me,” and “Our Grandmothers,” Angelou has left me with a hefty sense of pride and a better understanding, love, and respect for the human race and our shared experiences.

To say that Maya Angelou’s work has been a source of inspiration and influence would be an understatement.  Angelou’s writing (along with a few others) fueled my fascination with the human condition and my desire to write about it in a unique yet relatable (and at times, unconventional) way.  While it was never my desire to write like or copy Angelou, if my writing can (one day) have the slightest feeling, impact, and influence of her writing—that would truly be amazing.

Check out the following snippets from Poetic Justice featuring Angelou’s “Alone” and “Phenomenal Woman” (as voiced by the character Justice, played by Janet Jackson).

Day 81: Inspirational Quotes (from Writers)

Inspiration can come from so many places.  Today, I’m featuring some quotes from writers whose work has inspired and moved me so over the years.  What are some quotes from your favorite writers?
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” ~ Maya Angelou
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” ~ Maya Angelou
Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston
Nothing that God ever made is the same thing to more than one person. That is natural.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston
Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.” ~ James Baldwin 
The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.” ~ James Baldwin 
No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” ~ Alice Walker
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” ~ Alice Walker
An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.” ~ Langston Hughes
7 x 7 + love = An amount Infinitely above: 7 x 7 – love.” ~ Langston Hughes
 
If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~ Toni Morrison
   
Writing is really a way of thinking–not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.” ~ Toni Morrison