Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and thell as her distinct sense of justice, both politically and personally. Angelou was among the first, if not the first, to create a literary franchise based on autobiographical writings. In the series six titles — beginning with the classic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and followed by Gather Together in My Name, Singin and Swingin and Gettin Merry Like Christmas, Heart of a Woman, All Gods Children Need Traveling Shoes, and 2002s A Song Flung Up to Heaven — Angelou tells her story in language both no-nonsense and intensely spiritual. Angelous facility with language, both on paper and as a suede-voiced speaker, have made her a populist poet. Her 1995 poem Phenomenal Woman is still passed along the Web among women as inspiration (Its in the reach of my arms/The span of my hips/The stride of my steps/The curl of my lips./Im a woman/Phenomenally/Phenomenal woman/Thats me), and her 1993 poem On the Pulse of the Morning, written for Bill Clintons presidential inauguration, was later released as a Grammy-winning album. Angelou often cites other writers (from Kenzaburo Oe to James Baldwin) both in text and name. But as often as not, her major mentors were not writers – she had been set to work with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. before each was assassinated, stories she recounts in A Song Flung Up to Heaven. Given her rollercoaster existence — from poverty in Arkansas to journalism in Egypt and Ghana and ultimately, to her destiny as a successful writer and professor in the States – its no surprise that Angelou hasnt limited herself to one or two genres. Angelou has also written for stage and screen, acted, and directed. She is the rare author from whom inspiration can be derived both from her approach to life as from her talent in writing about it. Reading her books is like taking counsel from your wisest, favorite aunt.
Good To Know
Angelou was nominated for an Emmy for her performance as Nyo Boto in the 1977 miniseries Roots. She has also appeared in films such as How to Make an American Quilt and Poetic Justice, and she directed 1998s Down in the Delta. Angelou speaks six languages, including West African Fanti. She taught modern dance at the Rome Opera House and the Hambina Theatre in Tel Aviv. Before she became famous as a writer, Maya Angelou was a singer. Miss Calypso is a CD of her singing calypso songs.