So I alluded to this in my last post, but it’s worth making it more explicit: unless you can name three of Maya Angelou’s collections without Googling, and unless you are familiar with her work from before, say, 1990, you probably shouldn’t be publicly critiquing her work. Because the initial wave of commemoration for her death has given way to the inevitable spasm of “oh god she’s the WORST” backlash. And hey, that’s OK. If you’re annoyed by her public persona, fine. If you think that people are being fake in mourning her now when they didn’t read her work when she was alive, OK. If you disagree with her politics, great. If you are significantly familiar with her work and don’t like it, that’s OK too– and I especially understand if you specifically don’t like her late period work, where she is most frequently guilty of exaggerating her own style. But if you don’t know her work, it’s probably best not to offer an opinion on it. Don’t fake cultural literacy. You don’t do yourself or anyone else any favors. If you’re like most people and never read poetry, you don’t have to have an aesthetic opinion on this particular poet. If you want to get acquainted with Angelou’s work, I recommend Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?