Being the most visible voice among contemporary African American women, Maya Angelou’s works deal with subjects such as racism, sexism, civil rights, etc. She has also embraced various literary forms and genres to convey her creative thoughts. While ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ and its sequels are autobiographical novels, she has also written numerous plays and poems. Her poems are known for their rhyme, metric and the tone of informality. The poem chosen for this analysis is titled Weekend Glory, a discussion of which follows.
Weekend Glory is, in short, a celebration of work and life and the ideal balance between the two. Angelou contends that many people slog away at their office desks on weekdays and beyond, only because they lend themselves to be participants of a consumerist culture. For example, they buy expensive condo apartments, luxurious cars, etc, which places them in a perpetual debt cycle. The lines “posin’ and preenin’; and puttin’ on acts” conveys the author’s attitude toward such people, whom she sees as being ignorant and having misplaced values. Driven by an anxiety to move up socially, they seem to lose out on innocent joys of a simpler lifestyle.
The author contrasts this typical modern lifestyle to her own life as a factory worker. While admitting that her own standard of living is not top notch, she asserts that she lives a more colorful life than those fixated with career advancement. And nothing captures the author’s sense of success than her forays across town during the weekends – she gets her hair done, meets up with her friends, goes to a bar and enjoys the music and the experience there. This way she could spruce herself up for the new week of work at the factory. This sort of weekend glory may only be a consolation for the monotonous, boring nature of work awaiting her at the factory, but at least she revels in its rewards. More importantly, she is free of debt or illusion – which usually results from constantly comparing oneself with the Joneses.
As for the technical aspects of the poem, it is written in a tight, compact form. This is typical of Angelou’s poetic works, which take after African American musical-lyrical tradition. The lines are short and crisp and are rhythmical throughout. But the size of stanzas are not consistent, ranging from 2 to 8 lines in length. Angelou usually gives emphasis to tone and flavor in her poems even if it compromises other metrics. And Weekend Glory is no exception to this. The tone is informal yet assertive and succeeds in capturing the author’s intended meaning. The overall effect is one of criticism towards work and careerism, while also showing empathy towards people.
Angelou, Maya, Weekend Glory, poem from <http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/weekend-glory/>, first posted in January, 2003, retrieved on 25th June, 2011.
Cudjoe, Selwyn R. (1984). “Maya Angelou and the autobiographical statement”. In Black women writers (1950–1980): A critical evaluation, Mari Evans, ed. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday . ISBN 0-385-17124-2
Lupton, Mary Jane (1998). Maya Angelou: A critical companion. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30325-8