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I like the process of sharing stories with friends and family, and making a letter attractive with return labels and stamps to match. Since my grandmother Charlotte collects stamps, I impart extra sentimentality in selecting stamps for her. I know she appreciates receiving the newest stamp of the season on my letters. Most recently, my favorites included the La Florida and Batman stamps, but last week’s release of the Maya Angelou stamp featuring her bright visage in a reassuring grin might be my new favorite.
Like me, Maya Angelou moved a lot as a child; that’s not to say I consider myself like her, it’s just a convenient segue. Angelou spent much of her childhood growing up in Stamps, Arkansas with her grandmother, where, after suffering a series of traumatic experiences, she learned to love literature and expressing herself through writing. Her career since then has been prolific. Today, Angelou’s poetry and autobiographical works are part of many schools’ curricula. The bold and brilliant poet passed away last year, after a life spent laboring to make the world a better place through beautiful and powerful language, receiving a multitude of awards and recognition along the way.
Angelou continues to touch an untold number of lives, directly and indirectly. These stamps are merely a small part of her continuing reach. In mailing letters with Angelou’s spirit invested in the stamps, I imagine the indefatigable hope and lyrical sass of “Still I Rise“ and “Phenomenal Woman” dancing through the postal system to arrive at the letters’ destinations like the welcome appearance of sunshine after a storm. This week, the Maya Angelou stamp is riding on a birthday card heading to my grandmother Charlotte.
The stamp itself is attractive in its clean simplicity: on a white background, Angelou’s face graces the right side while her name and a quote mistakenly attributed to her. The quote, mentioning the reason a caged bird will sing, actually belongs to another poet. Angelou often referenced the quote and others frequently associate it with her, so it has regularly been misattributed to her. In this case, the error on the part of the United States Postal System is grounds to not reissue the stamp—so get your Maya Angelou stamp while you can!
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