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Poetry Friday: Discover This Country

Patricia Awapara

A quote from the late poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou sums up the theme of this week’s Poetry Friday segment. She said, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike”. KNAU listener Stephanie Birdwell of Flagstaff had that notion in mind when she chose two Angelou poems for us…they speak to some of the raw, disheartening stories of America and the hope that positive change and humanity will prevail.

Stephanie Birdwell:

Today I've picked the poems 'Africa' and 'America'. I feel like they're reall timely for what's happening in the United States at this moment. What I really liked about these poems is some of the history, and the roots, and also talking about where we're going. 

Africa, by Maya Angelou

Thus she had lain

sugar cane sweet

deserts her hair

golden her feet

mountains her breasts            

two Niles her tears.

Thus she has lain

Black through the years.

Over the white seas

Rime white and cold             

Brigands ungentled

icicle bold

took her daughters

Sold her strong sons

churched her with Jesus        

bled her with guns

Thus she has lain.

Now she is rising

remember her pain

remember he losses              

her screams loud and vain

remember her riches

her history slain

now she is striding

although she had lain           


Credit Stephanie Birdwell
Poetry Friday reader Stephanie Birdwell of Flagstaff

America, by Maya Angelou

The gold of her promise

has never been mined

Her borders of justice

not clearly defined

Her crops of abundance

the fruit and the grain

Have not fed the hungry

nor eased that deep pain

Her proud declarations

are leaves on the wind

Her southern exposure

black death did befriend

Discover this country

dead centuries cry

Erect noble tablets

where none can decry

"She kills her bright future

and rapes for a sou

Then entraps her children

with legends untrue"

I beg you

Discover this country. 

Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at