Poetic Justice

Sadly, as most folks know, Maya Angelou passed away last week. There were numerous wonderful articles written about the amazing life of Dr. Angelou. So much so, that I couldn’t keep up. However, there were only a couple of articles that mentioned the film “Poetic Justice.” The 1993 movie was inspired by Dr. Angelou’s poetry. Maybe folks have glossed over the film because it wasn’t that good. Or maybe because Janet Jackson was in it.


I love J.J., but her acting can be hit or miss. The film was revolutionary for its time. It was the rare nationally released film that tried to explore the complexities of black womanhood. Yes, the film was kind of all over the map.  John Singleton’s directing/writing skills can also be hit or miss. But I think the film has its beautiful moments. I mean, it does feature the poetry of Dr. Angelou.

Who can forget the last scenes as Janet’s character has an epiphany about who she is and what see wants out of her life. As she flips through all of her black clothes in a closet, Dr. Angelou’s poem  “Phenomenal Woman” is narrated in the background.  if you don’t get a tear in your eye, I don’t know what to say about you…

There is something about the those last scenes that make up for the nonsense of the rest of the film. I wish Singleton had the skills to have made the whole film as thoughtful as those scenes.  The film has so much potential.  I think enough time has passed it could be remade/tweaked for a new audience.

Maybe black women directors like Ava DuVernay or Dee Rees could take it on.