Cross-posting a portion of a post I wrote at Very Like A Whale on Maya Angelou. I wrote in part:
As for Angelou’s poems, they did not work at all well on the page for me. The tradecraft was less noteworthy and I found her work lacked subtlety – was indeed often fairly raw, heavy-handed and sometimes even clunky. It’s easy to see where her considerable reputation comes from, though, if you do an internet search for her reciting her own work… She has a great, super-sensitive relationship with her words, a terrific voice and amazing delivery, which make her poems-as-voice much more formidable than her poems-as-text.
There aren’t that many recordings of her reading her own work online, but here are two videos that really do showcase her amazing delivery: