As a poet, I suppose I should say I learned more about writing from Maya Angelou, but the inspiration she gave me shivered down my spine in a greeting card store quite a few years ago. I was looking for a card (I probably didn't have time to make one then) and I came upon one with a poem of hers in it. I think there was a whole line of cards with her poems in them. I remember staring at them dumbfounded: Maya Angelou cards? I was stunned that a great writer would actually put her work in greeting cards, which until that moment seemed like a small, back door form of art.
My dear husband and I had gotten very good over the years at finding cards that did not rhyme. If by some chance we had missed a more subtle rhyme scheme, we felt cheated and apologized for not reading more carefully. The "poems" in many greeting cards were simplistic doggerel, heartfelt and well-intentioned, but the sort of lines condemned in many literary journals' comments on what they don't want: "no greeting card verse."
But if Maya Angelou could include her poetry in her greeting cards, then I could, too! For me, it also underlined her status as a "Renaissance woman." She didn't draw boundaries around her body of work and insist that she would only color within the lines. I began to include some of my poetry in a few of my cards, and that trend is growing, along with my knowledge of Adobe Elements and a desire to uplift the person who will be receiving it. Many years ago, a friend told me that she saw greeting cards as my mission, and I am growing into that each day.
Yes, the caged bird sings, but when she soars free she sings a new song that sparkles the grass with dew drops, unfurls rose petals, and draws back a curtain of clouds on an opening day of blue.