cover image I Shall Not Be Moved

I Shall Not Be Moved

Maya Angelou. Random House (NY), $16 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-394-58618-2

Angelou's poems embrace opposite poles: the laughter of old folks who ``generously forgive life for happening to them,'' and the ``helpless hope'' on the faces of starving children. Though she can be directly political, as in a stinging letter to ``These Yet to Be United States,'' more often, a political dimension emerges naturally from ordinary lives observed with keen irony (``Even minimal people can't survive on minimal wage''). Angelou's themes include loss of love and youth, human oneness in diversity, the strength of blacks in the face of racism and adversity. The book's title is also the refrain of ``Our Grandmothers,'' a moving history poem about the struggles of black women. Some of these lyrics are free-form, while others use conventional rhyme and meter to good effect. Angelou ( I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ) writes with poise and grace. Author tour. (May)