Maya Angelou

1928–2014
Maya Angelou

An acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer, Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou has had a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood's first female black director, but is most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet. As a civil rights activist, Angelou worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She was also an educator and served as the Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. By 1975, wrote Carol E. Neubauer in Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, "Angelou had become recognized not only as a spokesperson for blacks and women, but also for all people who are committed to raising the moral standards of living in the United States." She served on two presidential committees, for Gerald Ford in 1975 and for Jimmy Carter in 1977. In 2000, Angelou was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. In 2010, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., by President Barack Obama. Angelou was awarded over 50 honorary degrees.

Angelou’s most famous work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), deals with her early years in Long Beach, St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas, where she lived with her brother and paternal grandmother. In one of its most evocative (and controversial) moments, Angelou describes how she was first cuddled then raped by her mother's boyfriend when she was just seven years old. When the man was murdered by her uncles for his crime, Angelou felt responsible, and stopped talking. Angelou remained mute for five years, but developed a love for language. She read black authors like Langston Hughes, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Paul Lawrence Dunbar, as well as canonical works by William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allan Poe. When Angelou was twelve and a half, Mrs. Flowers, an educated black woman, finally got her to speak again. Mrs. Flowers, as Angelou recalled in her children’s book Mrs. Flowers: A Moment of Friendship (1986), emphasized the importance of the spoken word, explained the nature of and importance of education, and instilled in her a love of poetry. Angelou graduated at the top of her eighth-grade class.

Angelou attended George Washington High School in San Francisco and took lessons in dance and drama on a scholarship at the California Labor School. When Angelou, just 17, graduated from high school and gave birth to a son, Guy, she began to work as the first female and black street car conductor in San Francisco. As she explained in Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry like Christmas (1976), the third of her autobiographies, she also "worked as a shake dancer in night clubs, fry cook in hamburger joints, dinner cook in a Creole restaurant and once had a job in a mechanic's shop, taking the paint off cars with my hands." Angelou married a white ex-sailor, Tosh Angelos, in 1950. After they separated, Angelou continued her study of dance in New York City, returning to San Francisco to sing in the Purple Onion cabaret and garnering the attention of talent scouts. From 1954 to 1955, she was a member of the cast of a touring production of Porgy and Bess. During the late 1950s, Angelou sang in West Coast and Hawaiian nightclubs, before returning to New York to continue her stage career.

Angelou joined the Harlem Writers Guild in the late 1950s and met James Baldwin and other important writers. It was during this time that Angelou had the opportunity to hear Dr. Martin Luther King speak. Inspired by his message, she decided to become a part of the struggle for civil rights. She was offered a position as the northern coordinator for Dr. King's SCLC. Following her work for Dr. King, Angelou moved to Cairo with her son, and, in 1962, to Ghana in West Africa. She worked as a freelance writer and was a feature editor at the African Review. When Angelou returned to the United States in the mid-1960s, she was encouraged by author James Baldwin and Robert Loomis, an editor at Random House, to write an autobiography. Initially, Angelou declined the offers, but eventually changed her mind and wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The book chronicles Angelou's childhood and ends with the birth of her son. It won immediate success and was nominated for a National Book Award.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first of Angelou’s six autobiographies. It is widely taught in schools, though it has faced controversy over its portrayal of race, sexual abuse and violence. Angelou’s use of fiction-writing techniques like dialogue and plot in her autobiographies was innovative for its time and helped, in part, to complicate the genre’s relationship with truth and memory. Though her books are episodic and tightly-crafted, the events seldom follow a strict chronology and are arranged to emphasize themes. Most critics have judged Angelou’s subsequent autobiographies in light of her first, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings remains the most highly praised. Other volumes include Gather Together in My Name (1974), which begins when Angelou is seventeen and a new mother; Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry like Christmas, an account of her tour in Europe and Africa with Porgy and Bess; The Heart of a Woman (1981), a description of Angelou’s acting and writing career in New York and her work for the civil rights movement; and All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), which recounts Angelou's travels in West Africa and her decision to return, without her son, to America.

It took Angelou 15 years to write the final volume of her autobiography, A Song Flung up to Heaven (2002). The book covers four years, from the time Angelou returned from Ghana in 1964 through the moment when she sat down at her mother's table and began to write I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1968. Angelou hesitated so long to start the book and took so long to finish it, she told Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service interviewer Sherryl Connelly, because so many painful things happened to her, and to the entire African-American community, in those four years. "I didn't know how to write it," she said. "I didn't see how the assassination of Malcolm [X], the Watts riot, the breakup of a love affair, then [the assassination of Dr.] Martin [Luther] King [Jr.], how I could get all that loose with something uplifting in it." A Song Flung up to Heaven deals forthrightly with these events, and "the poignant beauty of Angelou's writing enhances rather than masks the candor with which she addresses the racial crisis through which America was passing," Wayne A. Holst wrote in Christian Century.

Angelou was also a prolific and widely-read poet, and her poetry has often been lauded more for its depictions of black beauty, the strength of women, and the human spirit; criticizing the Vietnam War; demanding social justice for all—than for its poetic virtue. Yet Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie, which was published in 1971, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1972. This volume contains 38 poems, some of which were published in The Poetry of Maya Angelou (1969). According to Carol Neubauer in Southern Women Writers, "the first twenty poems describe the whole gamut of love, from the first moment of passionate discovery to the first suspicion of painful loss." In other poems, "Angelou turns her attention to the lives of black people in America from the time of slavery to the rebellious 1960s. Her themes deal broadly with the painful anguish suffered by blacks forced into submission, with guilt over accepting too much, and with protest and basic survival."

As Angelou wrote her autobiographies and poems, she continued her career in film and television. She was the first black woman to have a screenplay (Georgia, Georgia) produced in 1972. She was honored with a nomination for an Emmy award for her performance in Roots in 1977. In 1979, Angelou helped adapt her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, for a television movie of the same name. Angelou wrote the poetry for the 1993 film Poetic Justice and played the role of Aunt June. She also played Lelia Mae in the 1993 television film There Are No Children Here and appeared as Anna in the feature film How to Make an American Quilt in 1995.

One source of Angelou's fame in the early 1990s was President Bill Clinton's invitation to write and read the first inaugural poem. Americans all across the country watched as she read "On the Pulse of Morning," which begins "A Rock, a River, a Tree" and calls for peace, racial and religious harmony, and social justice for people of different origins, incomes, genders, and sexual orientations. It recalls the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I have a dream" speech as it urges America to "Give birth again / To the Dream" of equality. Angelou challenged the new administration and all Americans to work together for progress: "Here, on the pulse of this new day, / You may have the grace to look up and out / And into your sister's eyes, and into / Your brother's face, your country /And say simply / Very simply / With hope—Good morning."

During the early 1990s, Angelou wrote several books for children, including Life Doesn't Frighten Me (1993), which also featured the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat; My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me (1994), and Kofi and His Magic (1996), both collaborations with the photographer Margaret Courtney-Clark. Angelou’s poetry collections include The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994) and Phenomenal Woman (1995), a collection of four poems that takes its title from a poem which originally appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine in 1978. The poem’s narrator describes the physical and spiritual characteristics and qualities that make her attractive. Angelou has also written occasional poems, including A Brave Startling Truth (1995), which commemorated the founding of the United Nations, and Amazing Peace (2005), a poem written for the White House Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.

Angelou has published multiple collections of essays. Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993) contains declarations, complaints, memories, opinions, and advice on subjects ranging from faith to jealousy. Genevieve Stuttaford, writing in Publishers Weekly, described the essays as "quietly inspirational pieces." Anne Whitehouse of the New York Times Book Review observed that the book would "appeal to readers in search of clear messages with easily digested meanings." Even the Stars Look Lonesome (1997) is the sister volume, a book of "candid and lovingly crafted homilies" to "sensuality, beauty, and black women" said Donna Seaman in Booklist. Letter to my Daughter was published in 2008.

Angelou’s poetry often benefits from her performance of it: Angelou usually recites her poems before spellbound crowds. Indeed, Angelou’s poetry can also be traced to African-American oral traditions like slave and work songs, especially in her use of personal narrative and emphasis on individual responses to hardship, oppression and loss. In addition to examining individual experience, Angelou’s poems often respond to matters like race and sex on a larger social and psychological scale. Describing her work to George Plimpton, Angelou has said, "Once I got into it I realized I was following a tradition established by Frederick Douglass—the slave narrative—speaking in the first-person singular talking about the first-person plural, always saying I meaning 'we.' And what a responsibility. Trying to work with that form, the autobiographical mode, to change it, to make it bigger, richer, finer, and more inclusive in the twentieth century has been a great challenge for me."

In 2013 she was the recipient of the Literarian Award, an honorary National Book Award for contributions to the literary community. She died in 2014 at the age of 86.

[Updated 2014]

Career

Author, poet, scriptwriter, playwright, performer, actress, and composer. Arab Observer (English-language newsweekly), Cairo, Egypt, associate editor, 1961-62; University of Ghana, Institute of African Studies, Legon-Accra, Ghana, assistant administrator of School of Music and Drama, 1963-66; freelance writer for Ghanaian Times and Ghanaian Broadcasting Corporation, 1963-65; African Review, Accra, feature editor, 1964-66. Lecturer at University of California, Los Angeles, 1966; writer-in-residence at University of Kansas, 1970; distinguished visiting professor at Wake Forest University, Wichita State University, and California State University, Sacramento, 1974; Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University, 1981—; visiting professor, universities in the United States; lecturer at various locations in the United States. Southern Christian Leadership Conference, northern coordinator, 1959-60; appointed member of American Revolution Bicentennial Council by President Gerald R. Ford, 1975-76; member of the Presidential Commission for International Women's Year, 1978-79; Board of Governors, University of North Carolina, Maya Angelou Institute for the Improvement of Child & Family Education at Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, NC, 1998. Writer of poems for Hallmark greeting cards and gifts, 2002—. Host on XM Radio, 2006—. Appeared in Porgy and Bess on twenty- two nation tour sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, 1954-55; appeared in Off-Broadway plays, Calypso Heatwave, 1957, and Jean Genet's The Blacks, 1960; produced and performed in Cabaret for Freedom, Off-Broadway, 1960; appeared in Mother Courage at University of Ghana, 1964; appeared in Medea in Hollywood, 1966; television narrator, interviewer, and host for African American specials and theater series, 1972—; made Broadway debut in Look Away, 1973; directed film, All Day Long, 1974; appeared in television miniseries Roots, 1977; directed play, And Still I Rise, Oakland, CA, 1976; directed play, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, by Errol John, London, 1988; appeared as Aunt June in film, Poetic Justice, 1993; appeared as Lelia Mae in television film, There Are No Children Here, 1993; appeared in advertising for the United Negro College Fund, 1994; appeared as Anna in film, How to Make an American Quilt, 1995; narrator of the film The Journey of the August King, 1995; narrator of the video Elmo Saves Christmas, 1996; appeared in the film Down in the Delta, 1998; appeared in film The Amen Corner and television series Down in the Delta, both 1999; appeared as Conjure Woman in the television special The Runaway, 2000; appeared as herself in various television specials.

Bibliography

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Random House (New York, NY), 1970, many reprintings.
  • Gather Together in My Name, Random House (New York, NY), 1974, many reprintings.
  • Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry like Christmas, Random House (New York, NY), 1976.
  • The Heart of a Woman, Random House (New York, NY), 1981.
  • All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, Random House (New York, NY), 1986, many reprintings.
  • A Song Flung up to Heaven, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou (omnibus edition of all six autobiographies), Modern Library (New York, NY), 2004.
  • Mom & Me & Mom, Random House (New York, NY), 2013.

POETRY

  • Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie, Random House (New York, NY), 1971, many reprintings.
  • Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well, Random House (New York, NY), 1975, many reprintings.
  • And Still I Rise, Random House (New York, NY), 1978, new version published as Still I Rise, illustrated by Diego Rivera, edited by Linda Sunshine, Random House (New York, NY), 2001, many reprintings.
  • Shaker, Why Don't You Sing?, Random House (New York, NY), 1983, many reprintings.
  • Poems, four volumes, Bantam (New York, NY), 1986.
  • Now Sheba Sings the Song (illustrated poem), illustrations by Tom Feelings, Dutton (New York, NY), 1987.
  • I Shall Not Be Moved, Random House (New York, NY), 1990, many reprintings.
  • On the Pulse of Morning, Random House (New York, NY), 1993, many reprintings.
  • The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou, Random House (New York, NY), 1994, many reprintings.
  • A Brave and Startling Truth, Random House (New York, NY), 1995.
  • Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women, Random House (New York, NY), 1995, new edition published as Phenomenal Woman, paintings by Paul Gaugin, edited by Linda Sunshine, Random House (New York, NY), 2000.
  • Amazing Peace, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

Also author of The Poetry of Maya Angelou, 1969. Contributor of poems in The Language They Speak Is Things to Eat: Poems by Fifteen Contemporary North Carolina Poets and to Mary Higgins Clark, Mother, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.

ESSAYS

  • Lessons in Living, Random House (New York, NY), 1993.
  • Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, Random House (New York, NY), 1993.
  • Even the Stars Look Lonesome, Random House (New York, NY), 1997.
  • Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
  • Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.
  • Letter to my Daughter, Random House (New York, NY), 2008.

CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOKS

  • Mrs. Flowers: A Moment of Friendship (selection from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) illustrated by Etienne Delessert, Redpath Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1986.
  • Life Doesn't Frighten Me (poem), edited by Sara Jane Boyers, illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1993.
  • (With others) Soul Looks Back in Wonder, illustrated by Tom Feelings, Dial (New York, NY), 1993.
  • My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me, photographs by Margaret Courtney-Clarke, Crown (New York, NY), 1994.
  • Kofi and His Magic, photographs by Margaret Courtney-Clarke, Crown (New York, NY), 1996.
  • Angelina of Italy, illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
  • Izak of Lapland, illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
  • Renie Marie of France, illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
  • Mikale of Hawaii, illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.

PLAYS

  • (With Godfrey Cambridge) Cabaret for Freedom (musical revue), produced at Village Gate Theatre, New York, 1960.
  • The Least of These (two-act drama), produced in Los Angeles, 1966.
  • (Adapter) Sophocles, Ajax (two-act drama), produced at Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, 1974.
  • (And director) And Still I Rise (one-act musical), produced in Oakland, CA, 1976.
  • (Author of poems for screenplay) Poetic Justice (screenplay), Columbia Pictures, 1993.
  • (Author of lyrics, with Alistair Beaton) King, book by Lonne Elder, III, music by Richard Blackford, London, 1990.

Also author of the play Gettin' up Stayed on My Mind, 1967, a drama, The Best of These, a two-act drama, The Clawing Within, 1966, a two- act musical, Adjoa Amissah, 1967, and a one-act play, Theatrical Vignette, 1983.

FILM AND TELEVISION SCRIPTS

  • Georgia, Georgia (screenplay), Independent-Cinerama, 1972.
  • (And director) All Day Long (screenplay), American Film Institute, 1974.
  • (Writer of script and musical score) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, CBS, 1979.
  • Sister, Sister (television drama), National Broadcasting Co., Inc. (NBC-TV), 1982.
  • (Writer of poetry) John Singleton, Poetic Justice (motion picture), Columbia Pictures, 1993.

Composer of songs, including two songs for movie For Love of Ivy, and composer of musical scores for both her screenplays. Author of Black, Blues, Black, a series of ten one-hour programs, broadcast by National Educational Television (NET-TV), 1968. Also author of Assignment America, a series of six one-half-hour programs, 1975, and of The Legacy and The Inheritors, two television specials, 1976. Other documentaries include Trying to Make It Home (Byline series), 1988, and Maya Angelou's America: A Journey of the Heart (also host). Public Broadcasting Service Productions include Who Cares about Kids, Kindred Spirits, Maya Angelou: Rainbow in the Clouds, and To the Contrary. Writer for television series Brewster Place, Harpo Productions.

RECORDINGS

  • Miss Calypso (audio recording of songs), Liberty Records, 1957.
  • The Poetry of Maya Angelou (audio recording), GWP Records, 1969.
  • An Evening with Maya Angelou (audio cassette), Pacific Tape Library, 1975.
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (audio cassette with filmstrip and teacher's guide), Center for Literary Review, 1978, abridged version, Random House (New York, NY), 1986.
  • Women in Business (audio cassette), University of Wisconsin, 1981.
  • Making Magic in the World (audio cassette), New Dimensions, 1988.
  • On the Pulse of Morning (audio production), Ingram, 1993.
  • Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now (audio production), Ingram, 1993.
  • Phenomenal Woman (audio production), Ingram, 1995.
  • Been Found, 1996.

OTHER

  • Conversations with Maya Angelou, edited by Jeffrey M. Elliot, Virago Press (London, England), 1989.
  • Maya Angelou (four-volume boxed set), Ingram (London, England), 1995.
  • (With Mary Ellen Mark) Mary Ellen Mark: American Odyssey, Aperture (New York, NY), 1998.
  • Great Food, All Day Long : Eat Joyfully, Eat Healthy, Virago Press (London, England), 2001.

Contributor to books, including Poetic Justice: Filmmaking South Central Style, Delta, 1993; Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists, Rizzoli International Publications, 1996; The Journey Back: A Survivor's Guide to Leukemia, Rainbow's End Company, 1996; The Challenge of Creative Leadership, Shephard-Walwyn, 1998; and Amistad: "Give Us Free": A Celebration of the Film by Stephen Spielberg, Newmarket Press, 1998. Author of forewords to African Canvas: The Art of African Women, by Margaret Courtney-Clarke, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1991; Dust Tracks on the Road: An Autobiography, by Zora Neale Hurston, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991; Caribbean & African Cooking, by Rosamund Grant, Interlink (Northampton, MA), 1993;Double Stitch: Black Women Write about Mothers & Daughters, HarperCollins, 1993; African Americans: A Portrait, by Richard A. Long, Crescent Books (New York, NY), 1993; and Essence: Twenty-five Years Celebrating Black Women, edited by Patricia M. Hinds, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1995; author of introduction to Not without Laughter, by Langston Hughes, Scribner (New York, NY), 1995; author of preface to Mending the World: Stories of Family by Contemporary Black Writers, edited by Rosemarie Robotham, BasicCivitas Books (New York, NY), 2003. Author, with Charlie Reilly and Amiri Bakara, Conversations with Amiri Bakara. Short stories are included in anthologies, including Harlem and Ten Times Black. Contributor of articles, short stories, and poems to national periodicals, including Harper's, Ebony, Essence, Mademoiselle, Redbook, Ladies' Home Journal, Black Scholar, Architectural Digest, New Perspectives Quarterly, Savvy Woman, and Ms. Magazine.

Further Reading

BOOKS

  • Angelou, Maya, Gather Together in My Name, Random House (New York, NY), 1974.
  • Angelou, Maya, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry like Christmas, Random House (New York, NY), 1976.
  • Angelou, Maya, The Heart of a Woman, Random House (New York, NY), 1981.
  • Angelou, Maya, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, Random House (New York, NY), 1986.
  • Angelou, Maya, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Bantam (New York, NY), 1993.
  • Angelou, Maya, Lessons in Living, Random House (New York, NY), 1993.
  • Angelou, Maya, Even the Stars Look Lonesome, Random House (New York, NY), 1997.
  • Angelou, Maya, A Song Flung up to Heaven, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
  • Bloom, Harold, editor, Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Chelsea House Publishers (New York, NY), 1995.
  • Braxton, Joanne M., editor, Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: A Casebook, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.
  • Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography Supplement: Modern Writers, 1900-1998, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
  • Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 15, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997.
  • Contemporary Heroes and Heroines, Book 1, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.
  • Contemporary Poets, seventh edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.
  • Contemporary Popular Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.
  • Contemporary Southern Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
  • Contemporary Women Poets, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 38: Afro-American Writers after 1955: Dramatists and Prose Writers, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1985.
  • Encyclopedia of World Biography, second edition, seventeen volumes, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
  • Evans, Mari, editor, Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation, Anchor Press-Doubleday (New York, NY), 1984.
  • Inge, Tonette Bond, editor, Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, University of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa, AL), 1990.
  • King, Sarah E., Maya Angelou: Greeting the Morning, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1994.
  • Kirkpatrick, Patricia, compiler, Maya Angelou, Creative Education (Mankato, MN), 2003.
  • Lisandrelli, Elaine Slivinski, Maya Angelou: More than a Poet, Enslow Publishers (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 1996.
  • Literature and Its Times: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events That Influenced Them, Volume 4: World War II to the Affluent Fifties (1940s-1950s), Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997.
  • Newsmakers 1993, Issue 4, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1993.
  • Notable Black American Women, Book 1, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.
  • Poetry Criticism, Volume 32, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
  • St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, five volumes, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.
  • St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, second edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
  • Spain, Valerie, Meet Maya Angelou, Random House (New York, NY), 1994.
  • Women Filmmakers and Their Films, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
  • Writers for Young Adults, three volumes, Scribner's (New York, NY), 1997.

PERIODICALS

  • Artforum International, December, 1993, Dan Cameron, review of Life Doesn't Frighten Me, p. 74.
  • Black American Literature Forum, summer, 1990, Mary Jane Lupton, "Singing the Black Mother: Maya Angelou and Autobiographical Continuity," pp. 257-276.
  • Black Issues Book Review, March, 2001, Maitefa Angaza, "Maya: A Precious Prism," p. 30; March-April, 2002, Elsie B. Washington, review of A Song Flung up to Heaven, pp. 56-57.
  • Book, March-April, 2002, Beth Kephart, review of A Song Flung up to Heaven, p. 72.
  • Booklist, January 1, 1994, Hazel Rochman, review of Life Doesn't Frighten Me, pp. 829-830; October 1, 1994, Hazel Rochman, review of My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me, p. 329; August, 1997, Donna Seaman, review of Even the Stars Look Lonesome, p. 1842; January 1, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of A Song Flung up to Heaven, p. 774.
  • Christian Century, June 19, 2002, Wayne A. Holst, review of A Song Flung up to Heaven, pp. 35-36.
  • Ebony, February, 1999, review of Down in the Delta, p. 96.
  • Essence, December, 1992, Marcia Ann Gillespie, interview with Angelou, pp. 48-52; August, 1998, Lisa Funderberg, interview with Angelou and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, pp. 70-76.
  • Five Owls, September, 1995, p. 2.
  • Gentlemen's Quarterly, July, 1995, Freda Garmaise, "Maya-ness Is Next to Godlinesss," p. 33.
  • Herizons, winter, 2003, Heather Marie, review of A Song Flung Up to Heaven, pp. 40-41.
  • Jet, December 21, 1998, review of Down in the Delta, p. 58.
  • Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2002, review of A Song Flung up to Heaven, p. 25.
  • Kliatt, July, 2002, Janet Julian, review of Even the Stars Look Lonesome, p. 58.
  • Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, November 5, 1997, Fon Louise Gordon, review of Even the Stars Look Lonesome, p. 1105K5928; March 14, 2002, Leigh Dyer, "Shrugging off Criticism, Angelou Relishes Getting Her Words before So Many," p. K0392; April 3, 2002, Cassandra Spratling, "Maya Angelou, Still Rising: Turbulent Times Mark the Celebrated Author's Latest Memoir," p. K7652; April 10, 2002, Sherryl Connelly, "Maya Angelou, a Life Well Chronicled," p. K2443; April 30, 2002, Lamar Wilson, review of A Song Flung up to Heaven, p. K4586.
  • Library Journal, October 1, 1995, p. 102; September 15, 1997, Ann Burns, review of Even the Stars Look Lonesome, p. 74; March 15, 2002, Amy Strong, review of A Song Flung up to Heaven, pp. 79-80.
  • Mother Jones, May-June, 1995, Ken Kelley, interview with Angelou, pp. 22-25.
  • National Post, July 20, 2002, Marcie Good, "Inspiration for Hire: Hallmark Has Hired Poet Maya Angelou," p. SP1.
  • National Review, November 29, 1993, Richard Grenier, review of Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, p. 76.
  • New Republic, May 20, 2002, John McWhorter, review of A Song Flung up to Heaven, p. 35.
  • New York Times, January 20, 1993, Catherine S. Manegold, "A Wordsmith at Her Inaugural Anvil," pp. C1, C8.
  • New York Times Book Review, June 16, 1974, Annie Gottlieb, review of Gather Together in My Name; December 19, 1993, Anne Whitehouse, review of Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, p. 18; June 5, 1994, p. 48.
  • Paris Review, fall, 1990, Maya Angelou, and George Plimpton, "The Art of Fiction CXIX: Maya Angelou," pp. 145-167.
  • People, January 11, 1999, review of Down in the Delta, p. 35.
  • Poetry, August, 1976, Sandra M. Gilbert, review of Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well.
  • Publishers Weekly, September 20, 1993, review of Life Doesn't Frighten Me, p. 71; September 27, 1993, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, pp. 53-54; September 12, 1994, review of My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me, p. 91; August 4, 1997, review of Even the Stars Look Lonesome, pp. 54-55.
  • School Library Journal, October, 1987, Joseph Harper, review of Now Sheba Sings the Song, p. 146; May, 1995, p. 57; July, 2002, Karen Sokol, review of A Song Flung up to Heaven, p. 144.
  • Smithsonian, April, 2003, Lucinda Moore, interview with Angelou, p. 96.
  • Southern Literary Journal, fall, 1998, Marion M. Tangum, "Hurston's and Angelou's Visual Art: The Distancing Vision and the Beckoning Gaze," p. 80.
  • Variety, September 21, 1998, Joe Leydon, review of Down in the Delta, p. 110.

ONLINE

  • Official Maya Angelou Web site, http://www.mayaangelou.com (April 24, 2004).

Discover this poet’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Articles About MAYA ANGELOU

Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

LIFE SPAN 1928–2014

Maya Angelou

Biography

An acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer, Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou has had a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood's first female black director, but is most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet. As a civil rights activist, Angelou worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She was also an . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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