WOULDN’T TAKE NOTHING FOR MY JOURNEY NOW is a collection of twenty-four meditations, many of special interest to women, expressing Maya Angelou’s views on subjects ranging from fashion and entertainment to sensuality and pregnancy, racism, and death. Two of the essays contain new poems, one for Angelou’s mother, “Mrs. V. B.,” and the other, untitled, on the similarities among all people despite racial diversity. Among the best pieces here are those that begin with some autobiographical incident from which Angelou draws an insight or lesson. The most interesting include “Power of the Word,” focusing on the power of faith, particularly as illustrated in Angelou’s own experience and in her grandmother, “Mamma,” in Stamps, Arkansas, during the Great Depression; “Getups,” demonstrating not only Angelou’s love of richly colorful clothing but also a painful event from her years as a single mother of a small boy; and “Extending Boundaries,” recounting an embarrassing experience from Angelou’s early days as a writer in New York City. Angelou uses each incident to draw some point, though generally she offers her moral or advice with a light hand, often with humor, despite the seriousness of some of her subject matter. Her recurrent themes include self-knowledge and the necessity of honesty, prudence, and respect in the treatment of oneself and others.
Written in the simple, direct style that also characterizes Maya Angelou’s poetry, these essays are particularly suitable for morning or evening reflection. They range in length from several pages to one paragraph, and each is an independent piece. They offer insight into the experience and philosophy of one of America’s most celebrated women writers and practical advice for responsible yet pleasurable living.