A Rugby Interpretation Of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”

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Lindsey Oliver, a senior and rugby player at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was given an assignment for her recent documentary film class. The concept was to create a visual interpretation of a poem, and Lindsey chose Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”

Using her love of rugby to convey Angelou’s message of how, with self-respect and confidence, the human spirit can overcome anything, Lindsey’s video uniquely illustrates the weight of the poem’s words.

“I decided to make my interpretation focused on rugby because I’ve played rugby for the past four years and felt like the poem evoked many similar emotions that I feel when playing the sport,” Lindsey told WYSK in an email. “It requires sacrifice and grit to succeed in rugby, and as an individual it takes extreme amounts of confidence and power to keep pushing and fighting as your body is in pain. I think this stanza in particular reminded me of rugby:”

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

“Still I Rise” was first published in 1978 in the author’s third volume of poetry, “And Still I Rise.” The poem, which Angelou said was her favorite, is an ode to the power that resides in all of us to overcome the harshest of obstacles. While the poem is almost 40 years, the message continues holds a powerful lesson today.