Phenomenal Woman

Maya Angelou

I remember watching Maya Angelou deliver the inaugural poem when Bill Clinton was sworn in to office in 1993—she was so poised, confident and calm; the picture of a powerful woman. She was really one of the greats, and it’s so hard to believe that she’s gone.

Thankfully, she’s left us so much of herself in her writing. Here are a few lines of her poem, “Phenomenal Woman,” which I think speaks to Angelou’s remarkable self-confidence, and how proud she was to be herself.


Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies.

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

— Excerpted from “Phenomenal Woman,” Maya Angelou, 1978


Thank you, Maya. You will be missed.


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4 thoughts on “Phenomenal Woman

  1. Maya was a sister, mother, aunt, friend to all of us. She made it okay to be who we wanted to be without having to conform to one standard to do what we wanted.


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