Sunday, April 19, 2009

Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou

I find Maya Angelou fascinating. I had the opportunity to hear her speak when I was in college and have remained a huge admirer ever since. I am not a fan of poetry in general which is obviously one of the things Angelou is famous for. But everything about Angelou's writing style is poetic. Her autobiographies are intriguing and powerful. When I read her books I am able to imagine the sound of Ms Angelou's voice in my head. And she is such a powerful speaker that it makes a world of difference.

That having been said, I was slightly disappointed by Letter to My Daughter. The introduction tells the reader that the book is dedicated to all the women in the world who are devotees of Maya Angelou, considering that Angelou herself only ever had a son. But I don't feel that the essays included in this book are in any way uniquely geared towards women. Moreover, the book is remarkably short. I was left wanting. At 192 pages it isn't long regardless, but every essay is under 5 pages in length and then there are multiple blank pages between essays. All in all, the actual text is probably closer to 100 pages.

The essays run the gamut from biographical to social commentary to poetry. My favorite chapter was a poem written for a college graduation. She gives good advice to the newly-graduated. She also has a few amusing anecdotes based on her worldly experiences in her twenties. But, I would have like to have more. Many of the essays were disconnected and relatively uninspiring - which is unusual for Angelou.

If you're a devotee, it's worth reading. If you're new to Maya Angelou I would recommend starting elsewhere.

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