Friday, September 11, 2015

Poetry Friday: The Complete Poetry by Maya Angelou

Have you picked up The Complete Poetry by Maya Angelou? It was released in the spring of 2015 and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy right away. I wrote a review of this book for my local newspaper. You can find an online version of the review here. Lovers of poetry and fans of Maya Angelou—please check out this book! It is wonderful, of course. But it is also an amazing feeling to hold the weight of this phenomenal woman’s lifework of poetry. As I read through the poems—some I’d seen before, many I hadn’t—I experienced a whole range of emotions, I reflected, and I learned.

While reading the book and preparing my review, I had begun reading outside again in parks for the first time this year. It was very early spring, snow patches still melting under pine trees, maple buds just beginning to appear. I had decided to reread I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which I took along with The Complete Poetry to a park in Elora one sort-of-warm but mostly-cool March day. 

With my husband beside me on a park bench (reading The Orenda by Joseph Boyden), I began my session with the poetry collection and moved on to the autobiography, placing The Complete Poetry behind me against the bench to shield my back from the cool breeze. (Survivors of Canadian winters know that even poetry books protect against the cold if positioned creatively.) In all honesty, it wasn’t too cold. We even took off our jackets for a short time (five seconds) to remember the feeling of outdoor air on skin. So really, it wasn’t necessary that I put The Complete Poetry behind me on the bench. I shouldn’t have. You can probably tell by now where this is going.

I am ashamed. I left the book in the park. On the bench. I don’t even live in Elora. We had taken a little day trip to the charming tourist town. We were now back at home. It was the next morning. I was seated at the breakfast table with my first tea, sun rising above the backyard maples, a red cardinal singing on a bare branch. I reached over to my pile of books to pick up The Complete Poetry. It wasn’t there.

We considered driving up and looking for it, but we had only an hour before we needed to get ready to go visit friends in the opposite direction of Elora.

I got myself another copy of The Complete Poetry and entertain myself imagining all the possible outcomes of the one I left on the bench in the park. Teenagers found it later that night attracted to a glossy shine on the word Poetry in the moonlight. One of them took it home and is now hooked on poetry.

Or perhaps after a night of paying bills with borrowed money, a man, led by a dog, discovered the book the next morning. He is now a Maya fan and has started writing poems again.

Or could it be that two sisters walked together at sunset after finally settling a dispute that separated them for years? In the park, they happened upon a beautiful poetry book and to this day they pass it back and forth after their rekindled weekly coffee meet-ups.

Wherever the book is, no doubt it has brought some inspiration to the life of its new owner.

Today's Poetry Friday Round-Up is at Life on the Deckle Edge. Thank you, Robyn!


  1. Hi Sheri, I really enjoyed your review, and your story about the lost book and who might have found it. It's lovely to meet a fellow-Canadian. I have visited Guelph (went to a writer's conference there several times) and Elora (though I live on the opposite side of Canada). What a delightful place.

  2. Sheri, I have a feeling it was no accident you left that book behind. Someone came along who really needed it, I bet. Your post reminds me of how much we need to share the books that move us... we should all leave books on benches -- on purpose! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes, we should leave books on benches on purpose! Maybe I'll "forget" a book in Elora again next spring. : ) Thanks, Irene!

  3. Love this backstory, and your imaginings about where that book might have ended up! (I also didn't know about it - thank you for remedying that.)