Tina L. Register
Dr. Deena, SSII
African American Literature
TABLE OF CONTENTS
BIOGRAPHY FROM OFFICIAL WEBSITE...........................................................9
RECENT EVENTS ....................................................................................................17
AUDIO AND VIDEO LINKS ...................................................................................22
AN INTERVIEW WITH MAYA ANGELOU..........................................................26
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF LITERARY CRITICISM ......................................................30
Maya Angelou is one of those people you wait your entire life to meet, and after
you do, you realize just by knowing her, life is worth living. I have not met Dr. Angelou
in the flesh, but I have met her through her work, and the love that she shares for
Facts tell the world that Dr. Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson over 70 years
ago, but facts can not tell us of the woman she is. Dr. Angelou said: “There's a world of
difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure truth.” One needs only to read parts
of her work, or listen to her speak to know that he is in the presence of wisdom. Dr.
Angelou embraces life as few have the courage to do, and she tries to impart wisdom
upon those who are willing to listen. Hallmark and Dr. Angelou have combined forces to
create a Life Mosiac selection of inspirational cards, gifts and wisdom.
Dr. Angelou has a variety of publications currently in print, including I Know
Why the Caged Bird Sings, Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now, and Heart of a
Woman. She has been honored by numerous universities and currently holds a
professorship at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, near her residence in
--Tina L. Register
BIOGRAPHY FROM MAYA ANGELOU OFFICIAL WEBSITE
BORN: Marguerite Johnson, April 4, 1928, St. Louis, Missouri
EDUCATION: Attended public school in Stamps, Arkansas and San Francisco, California
RANDOM HOUSE & BANTAM BOOKS
I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS, 1970 - On February 26, 1995, Bantam Books
congratulated Maya Angelou for being the first African-American to be the longest-running (2
years) on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Best-seller list.
GATHER TOGETHER IN MY NAME, 1974.
SINGIN' AND SWINGIN' AND GETTIN' MERRY LIKE CHRISTMAS, 1976.
THE HEART OF A WOMAN, 1981 - In September 1997, USA Today's "Best-Selling Book",
Jumped from #83 to #11 on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Best-seller list.
ALL GOD'S CHILDREN NEED TRAVELING SHOES, 1986.
A SONG FLUNG UP TO HEAVEN,2002- Currently on The New York Times Best-Seller List for
RANDOM HOUSE & BANTAM BOOKS
WOULDN'T TAKE NOTHING FOR MY JOURNEY NOW, 1993.
EVEN THE STARS LOOK LONESOME, 1997 - Jumped from #79 to #22 on The New York Times
Paperback Nonfiction Best-seller list.
STEWART, TABORI & CHANG
LIFE DOESN'T FRIGHTEN ME, 1993.
MY PAINTED HOUSE, MY FRIENDLY CHICKEN AND ME, 1994.
KOFI AND HIS MAGIC, 1996.
RANDOM HOUSE & BANTAM BOOKS
JUST GIVE ME A COOL DRINK OF WATER 'FORE I DIIIE, 1971 - Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
OH PRAY MY WINGS ARE GONNA FIT ME WELL, 1975.
AND STILL I RISE, 1978.
SHAKER, WHY DON'T YOU SING, 1983.
NOW SHEBA SINGS THE SONG, 1987.
I SHALL NOT BE MOVED, 1990.
ON THE PULSE OF MORNING, Written at the request of William Jefferson Clinton for his
Inauguration as the 42nd President of the United States, January 20, 1993. Published by
Random House in March, 1993.
THE COMPLETE COLLECTED POEMS OF MAYA ANGELOU, 1994.
PHENOMENAL WOMAN: FOUR POEMS FOR WOMEN, 1995.
A BRAVE AND STARTLING TRUTH, Recited at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the
United Nations, June 26, 1995; Published by Random House in October, 1995.
FROM A BLACK WOMAN TO A BLACK MAN, delivered at the Million Man March in
Washington, DC, October 16, 1995.
EXTRAVAGANT SPIRITS, written in May 1997 for Life Magazine's Collector's Edition
CABARET FOR FREEDOM, 1960 - Produced off-Broadway (in collaboration with Godfrey
THE LEAST OF THESE, 1966 - Produced in Los Angeles.
GETTIN' UP STAYED ON MY MIND, 1967.
AJAX, 1974 - Produced in Los Angeles (Mark Taper Forum).
AND STILL I RISE, 1976 - Produced in Oakland, California (Oakland Ensemble Theater).
MOON ON A RAINBOW SHAWL, 1988 - Produced in London (Author Errol John).
GEORGIA, GEORGIA, 1972 - Produced by Cinerama, Sweden.
ALL DAY LONG, 1974 - Produced by American Film Institute, Los Angeles.
· Writer for Oprah Winfrey series "Brewster Place."
· PBS Documentaries: "Who Cares About Kids" & "Kindred Spirits" - KERA-TV, Dallas, TX; "Maya
Angelou: Rainbow in the Clouds" - WTVS-TV, Detroit, MI "To the Contrary" - Maryland Public
Television. Two plays for national viewing;
· Tapestry and Circles; Directed in Hollywood, 1975.
· Author of six national one half-hour programs; interviews and profiles; "Assignment America"
premiered January 1975.
· Ten one-hour programs (NET-TV) "Black, Blues, Black"; National Education Television; written,
produced and directed, 1968.
· Ghanaian Broadcasting Corporation, Contributor, 1963-64.
· "Afro-American in the Arts," PBS Documentary
· "Humanities Through the Arts," 30 half-hour segments.
· "Three Way Choice," CBS Miniseries; Author/Executive Producer.
· Sister, Sisters, NBC; 1982.
· "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," CBS; co-authored; 1979.
· Two programs for the United States Information Agency; written and hosted; Part One: "The
Legacy"; Part Two: "The Inheritors," 1976.
· Touched By An Angel "Tree of Life" episode, November, 1995.
· "The Amen Corner" Chris/Rose Productions with Miramax (work-in-progress), 1999.
· "Down in the Delta" weekly television series (work-in-progress), 1999.
· Moesha, WB TV, August 30, 1999
· Runaway, CBS/Hallmark Movie, December 10, 2000.
FILMS & PLAYS
PORGY AND BESS (George Gershwin) played Ruby in European tour, 1954-55.
CALYPSO, Off-Broadway, 1957.
THE BLACKS (Jean Genet), played White Queen Off-Broadway, 1960. THE BLACKS won the
Obie Award in 1961 for the best Broadway play, both American and foreign).
MOTHER COURAGE (Bertold Brecht), played title role Off-Broadway, 1964.
MEDEA (Jean Anouilh), played Nurse in Hollywood.
LOOK AWAY (Jerome Kilty), played Mrs. Keckley, Broadway, 1973.
ROOTS (Alex Haley), played Nyo Boto (Grandmother), Hollywood, 1977. (Received Emmy
Nomination for Best Supporting Actress).
HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT, 1995, Universal Pictures.
DOWN IN THE DELTA, 1998, Miramax Films, Directorial Film Debut. Released on Video June
FOR THE LOVE OF IVY, Sidney Portier film
MISS CALYPSO, 1957, Liberty Records
GEORGIA, GEORGIA, 1972
ALL DAY LONG, 1974
MISS CALYPSO, 1996
SPOKEN WORD ALBUMS
· THE POETRY OF MAYA ANGELOU, 1969 - GWP Records.
· WOMEN IN BUSINESS, 1981 - University of Wisconsin.
· BEEN FOUND, Music & Spoken Word Album with Ashford & Simpson, 1996.
CONTRIBUTOR OF ARTICLES,
SHORT STORIES & POEMS TO THESE PERIODICALS:
Black Scholar, Redbook Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Essence, Ebony Magazine, Cosmopolitan,
California Living Magazine, Mademoiselle Magazine, Life Magazine, Ghanaian Times,Chicago
Daily News, Sunday New York Times
THE TRUE BELIEVERS, a book of poems in collaboration with Abbey Lincoln.
ALL DAY LONG, a collection of short stories
· Taught modern dance at THE ROME OPERA HOUSE and THE HAMBINA THEATRE in Tel Aviv.
· Was the Northern Coordinator for THE SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE -
appointed by the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1959-60.
· Associated Editor of the ARAB OBSERVER, Cairo, Egypt (English language news weekly) 1961-
· Assistant Administrator and teacher, School of Music & Drama, UNIVERSITY OF GHANA,
· Feature Editor of AFRICAN REVIEW, Accra, Ghana, 1964-66.
· Contributor of free-lance articles, GHANAIAN TIMES, 1964-66.
· Contributor to RADIO GHANA, 1964-66.
· Writer-in-Residence, UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS IN LAWRENCE, 1970.
· Distinguished Visiting Professor - Wake Forest University, 1974.
· Distinguished Visiting Professor - Wichita State University, 1974.
· Distinguished Visiting Professor - California State University of Sacramento, 1974.
· Appointed member of AMERICAN REVOLUTION BICENTENNIAL COUNCIL by President Gerald
· Served on Jimmy Carter's PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S
· Appointed the First REYNOLD'S PROFESSOR OF AMERICAN STUDIES AT WAKE FOREST
UNIVERSITY, Winston-Salem, N.C., a lifetime appointment since 1981.
· Selected by American Council of the Arts to deliver the NANCY HANKS LECTURE in
Washington, D.C. on March 20, 1990.
· Panelist at INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF HUMAN SYSTEMS in Zermatt, Switzerland, June
· National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, "Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Album For
PHENOMENAL WOMAN, 1995.
· United States of America, Congressional Record, 104th Congress, House of Representatives,
Tribute to Maya Angelou by the Honorable Kweisi Mfume, Maryland Congressman, 1996.
· Wrote Invocation & Benediction for "JESSYE NORMAN SINGS FOR THE HEALING OF AIDS"
· Microsoft Encarta Africana Encyclopedia, presenter for THE AFRICAN DIASPORA, 1998.
· Board of Governors, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA, "Maya Angelou Institute for the
Improvement of Child & Family Education" at Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem,
LANGUAGES FLUENT IN:
ENGLISH, FRENCH, SPANISH, ITALIAN, ARABIC, WEST AFRICAN FANTI
· Member, The Director's Guild of America.
· Member, Equity.
· Member, AFTRA (American Federation Television Radio Artists).
· Advisory Board, Woman's Prison Association.
· Harlem Writer's Guild.
· Member, The National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year.
· Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.
· National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, London, England, named a center for
Maya Angelou. NSPCC Maya Angelou C.P.T. and Family Centre opened by Maya Angelou June
· Ambassador, Unicef International, 1996.
· Member, Doctors without Borders, New York, 1996.
· Member, W.E.B. duBois Foundation, Inc., Amherst, MA.
· Member, Advisory Board, Bennett College, Greensboro, NC.
· Member, Advisory Board, First Commercial Bank, Little Rock, AR.
· Member, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Washington, DC.
HONORS & AWARDS
* Chubb Fellowship Award - Yale University 1970
* Nominated for the National Book Award for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 1970
* Pulitzer Prize Nomination for Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie 1972
* Honorary Degree - Portland State University 1973
* Tony Award Nomination for her performance in "Look Away" 1973
* Board of Trustees/American Film Institute 1975
* Rockfeller Foundation Scholar in Italy (Scholar-in-residence at the Bellagio Study & Conference
* Honorary Degree - Smith College 1975
* Honorary Degree - Mills College 1975
* Honorary Degree - Lawrence University 1976
* Ladies' Home Journal Award ("Woman of the Year in Communication") 1976
* Nominated for an Emmy Award in made-for-television movie "Roots" 1977
* Golden Eagle Award - Documentary for PBS, "Afro-American in the Arts" 1977
* Honorary Degree - Columbia College 1979
* Honorary Degree - Occidental College 1979
* Honorary Degree - Atlanta University 1980
* Honorary Degree - University of Arkansas at Pinebluff 1980
* Honorary Degree - Wheaton College 1981
* First Reynold's Professor - Wake Forest University (lifetime appointment) Since 1981
* Honorary Degree - Kean College of New Jersey 1982
* Honorary Degree - Claremont Graduate School 1982
* Honorary Degree - Spelman College 1983
* Honorary Degree - Boston College 1983
* Ladies' Home Journal "Top 100 Most Influential Women" 1983
* The Matrix Award - Field of Books from Women in Communication, Inc. 1983
* Honorary Degree - Winston-Salem State University 1984
* Honorary Degree - University Brunesis 1984
* Honorary Degree - Howard University 1985
* Honorary Degree - Tufts University 1985
* Honorary Degree - University of Vermont 1985
* Honorary Degree - North Carolina School of the Arts 1986
* The North Carolina Award in Literature (the highest honor the state bestows) 1987
* Honorary Degree - North Carolina School of the Arts 1988
* Honorary Degree - University of Southern California 1989
* American Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award 1990
* Recipient of the Langston Hughes Award presented at the City College of New York 1991
* Distinguished Woman of North Carolina 1992
* Essence Woman of the Year 1992
* Horatio Alger Award 1992
* Woman in Film Award 1992
* Honorary Degree - Northeastern University 1982
* Inaugural Poet for President Bill Clinton 1993
* Arkansas Black Hall of Fame 1993
* Honorary Degree - Skidmore College 1993
* Honorary Degree - University of North Carolina at Greensboro 1993
* Honorary Degree - Academy of Southern Arts & Letters 1993
* Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album 1994
* Spingarn Award NAACP 1994
* Honorary Degree - American Film Institute 1994
* Honorary Degree - Bowie State University 1994
* Frank G. Wells Award 1995
* Honorary Degree - University of Durham 1995
* Lifetime Membership, N.A.A.C.P., Honeywell Corporation, Minneapolis, MN 1996
* President's Award, Collegiate of Language Association for Outstanding Achievements,
Winston-Salem, NC 1996
* Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Los Angeles & Martin Luther King King, Jr.
Legacy Association National Award 1996
* The New York Black 100, Schomburg Center & The Black New Yorkers 1996
* National Conference of Christians & Jews, Distinguished Merit Citation 1997
* Homecoming Award, Oklahoma Center for Poets & Writers 1997
* W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Expert-in-Residence Program 1997
* North Carolina Woman of the Year Award, N.C. Black Publishers Association 1997
* Presidential & Lecture Series Award, University of North Florida 1997
* Black Caucus of American Library Association, Cultural Keepers Award 1997
* Humanitarian Contribution Award, Boston, MA 1997
* Honorary Degree - Shaw University 1997
* Honorary Degree - Wake Forest University 1997
* Alston/Jones International Civil & Human Rights Award 1998
* Christopher Award, New York, NY 1998
* American Airlines Audience, Gold Plaque Choice Award, Down in the Delta from Chicago
International Film Festival 1998
* City Proclamation, Winston-Salem, NC from Mayor Jack Cavanaugh 1998
* Sheila Award, Tubman African American Museum, Macon, GA 1999
* Special Olympics World Games, Speaker, Raleigh, NC 1999
* Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature 1999
* Named one of the top 100 best writers of the 20th century by Writer's Digest 1999
* Honorary Degree - Lafayette College 1999
PUBLICATIONS OF MAYA ANGELOU
A Song Flung Up to Heaven, 2002
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1970
Gather Together in My Name, 1974
Singin' and Swingin and Getting Merry Like Christmas, 1976
Heart of a Woman, 1981
All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, 1986
Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, 1993
Even the Stars Look Lonesome, 1997
Life Doesn't Frighten Me, 1993
My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken and Me, 1994
Kofi and His Magic, 1996
Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie, 1971
Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well, 1975
And Still I Rise, 1978
Shaker, Why Don't You Sing, 1983
Now Sheba Sings The Song, 1987
I Shall Not Be Moved, 1990
On The Pulse Of Morning, 1993
The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou, 1994
Phenomenal Woman, 1995
A Brave Startling Truth, 1995
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
How To Make An American Quilt
Down In The Delta
RECORDINGS & SCORES
RECENT EVENTS OF MAYA ANGELOU
Dr. Maya Angelou and Hallmark Cards, Inc. have collaborated to make a gift
selection that offers inspiration, hope and joy. Now available in select Hallmark
stores, the collection features vases, pillows, wind chimes, frames and other
With compassion and candor, Dr. Angelou's works speak to the heart,
encouraging us to love life, to persevere through its challenges and to share our
gifts with others.
Dr. Maya Angelou has a new book out, A Song Flung Up to Heaven. It is the
sixth installment of her autobiography, which began more than 30 years ago with
her best-selling classic, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It features more
poignant stories from her life, including her work with Malcolm X and Martin
Luther King, Jr. The book is currently on The New York Times Best-Seller List
for Hardcover Nonfiction.
December 12, 2000
President, First Lady and National Endowment for the Arts honor America's
Washington, DC - President William Clinton is pleased to announce the
distinguished recipients of the National Medal of Arts for the year 2000. The
President and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will present the Medal to ten
artists, an arts patron, and a cultural broadcaster during ceremonies in the nation's
capital to be held at Constitution Hall on December 20, 2000 at 10:00 am.
The Medal of Arts, established by Congress in 1984, honors individuals and
organizations who, in the President's judgment, are deserving of special
recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth,
support and availability of the arts in the United States.
National Medal of Arts Recipients for the year 2000:
· Lewis Manilow, Arts Patron
· Maya Angelou, Poet and Writer
· National Public Radio, Cultural Programming Division,
· Eddy Arnold, Country Singer
· Mikbail Baryshnikov, Dancer and Director
· Claes Oldenburg, Sculpter
· Benny Carter, Jazz Musician
· Itzhak Perlman, Violinist
· Chuck Close, Painter
· Harold Prince, Theater Director and Producer
· Horton Foote, Playwright and Screenwriter
· Barbra Streisand, Entertainer and Filmmaker
For more information on the National Endowment for the Arts, contact the Office
of Communications at 202-682-5570 or visit the Endowment Web site at
December 10, 2000
Dr. Maya Angelou appears in the Hallmark movie Runaway,
December 10, 2000, 9 P.M. est on CBS. The movie stars Dean Cain,
Leland L. Jones, Afemo Omilami, Maya Angelou, Pat Hingle, and Debbi
Morgan. The movie is directed by Andy Wolk.
Pops, Angelou strike the right note
By KAREN JEFFREY
- Taken from the Archives of The Cape Cod
Times, August 7, 2000
HYANNIS - Black and white, fat and thin, pretty and plain,
gay and straight - these are the people that Maya Angelou
And last night, with a voice that rivals a cello in its
expressive range, Angelou embraced an ever-growing family
attending the Pops by the Sea concert on the Village Green.
"I was over the moon," said Angelou about the invitation to
be the guest conductor at the annual visit of the Boston Pops Orchestra
to Cape Cod.
"My family comes to Cape Cod every year," she said. "We are all family and we are all here," she
said to a crowd of about 15,000 people who were obviously delighted to find themselves related to
one of the world's most extraordinary women.
Angelou, 72, is a poet, teacher, producer, actress, playwright, human rights activist, producer and
director. Last night she added conductor to this heady list of accomplishments when she took the
baton from Pops conductor Keith Lockhart and led the much-loved orchestra through a rousing
rendition of the "Washington Post March."
Even before this, the audience was transfixed by the power of a woman who wields language with
the love and discipline that a
wise mother affords her children. She began with a humorous reminiscence of her grandmother,
who grew passionate with song
during church services. Then, with the poem "Our Grandmother," Angelou summoned the spirits
of all who have gone before:
the Polish immigrant who landed at Ellis Island, the Chinese families who stayed behind while
much-loved sons came to build
America, the Irish who sought to escape the potato famine, and the African who came by slave
ship. "We owe our ancestors," she said.
The concert was the 15th annual Pops by the Sea, sponsored by the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod.
Proceeds from the concert benefit arts programs throughout the Cape. Last night's concert was
expected to raise $100,000.
HALLMARK AND MAYA ANGELOU
(MAYA AND HALLMARK LINK)
Why Maya Angelou and Hallmark?
Hallmark has a long and respected tradition of not just selling products, but of facilitating
emotional connections among people. This focus on enhancing and enriching relationships is
what makes Hallmark and Maya Angelou ideal partners. Together, Hallmark and Maya Angelou
share a message of hope, respect, community, and responsibility through beautifully designed
products that truly enhance the relationships and lives of people everywhere.
"I'm delighted that an institution so vast as Hallmark remembers what its mission is," says Maya
Angelou of her new partner. "I have found myself inspired, in talking with the Hallmark people,
and seeing what they do. They do not forget the human being. That delights my heart. I want to
be a part of it, for the human being is the focus of all my work."
Maya Angelou's universal message of hope and inspiration, combined with Hallmark's unique
expertise in nurturing relationships, makes for an inspiring new brand, Maya Angelou Life Mosaic,
that will serve to uplift, empower, and connect everyone who is touched by its unique spirit.
(2ND MAYA HALLMARK LINK)
Maya Angelou: Writing For a Better World
With twenty-two books to her credit, many of them best-sellers, and Pulitzer Prize and National
Book Award nominations under her belt, Maya Angelou has made a lasting mark on the world of
Maya Angelou began chronicling her life and life lessons in her first book, I Know Why the Caged
Bird Sings, which was nominated for the National Book Award in 1970. This chronicle of her life
up to age sixteen recounts her young awakening as she shuttled between rural, segregated
Stamps, Arkansas, where her devout grandmother ran a general store, and St. Louis, Missouri,
where her worldly, glamorous mother lived. She was encouraged to share her stories and wisdom
after some notable friends, including author James Baldwin, heard her childhood stories. These
same stories have gone on to touch, inspire, and encourage people all over the world.
Maya Angelou's work has always been about making connections among all people. In the
1960s, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she became the northern coordinator for the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1961 to 1962, she was associate editor of The
Arab Observer in Cairo, Egypt, the only English-language news weekly in the Middle East. From
1962 to 1965 she was feature editor of the African Review in Accra, Ghana. She returned to the
U.S. and was appointed by Gerald Ford to the Bicentennial Commission, and later by Jimmy
Carter to the Commission for International Woman of the Year. During this time, Maya Angelou
continued to produce masterpieces, including Just Give Me A Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie,
which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1971.
Maya Angelou's work is continually recognized for its universal message of hope and inspiration.
At the request of President Clinton, she wrote and read her poem, "On the Pulse of Morning" for
his 1993 inauguration. She recited her poem, "A Brave and Startling Truth" at the 50th
anniversary of the United Nations celebration. Her work has been recognized with honorary
degrees from dozens of top universities.
Hearts and Minds
The truest tribute to Maya Angelou's work is in the hearts of people the world over who have
found in her words comfort, inspiration, wisdom, guidance, and truth. Her message stands as a
beacon of hope and courage for everyone.
“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time
adoring our families, cherishing our friends, and living our lives.”
“Your life is much more important than you think. It is your first treasure.”
“Life is your adventure.”
“No one comes from the earth like grass. We come like trees. We all have roots.”
“I would have my ears filled with the world's music.
Let me hear all sounds of life and living.”
PHOTOGRAPHS OF MAYA ANGELOU
AUDIO AND VIDEO LINKS
Interview with Oprah Winfrey
Excerpt “When I Think of Myself”
Excerpt “On the Pulse of the Morning)
POEMS BY MAYA ANGELOU
"I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings"
P free bird leaps
on the back of the win
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and is tune is heard
on the distant hillfor the caged bird
sings of freedom
The free bird thinks of another breeze
an the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
I keep on dying again.
Veins collapse, opening like the
Small fists of sleeping
Memory of old tombs,
Rotting flesh and worms do
Not convince me against
The challenge. The years
And cold defeat live deep in
Lines along my face.
They dull my eyes, yet
I keep on dying,
Because I love to live.
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
An Interview with Maya Angelou
by David Frost
David Frost: And one of your teachers, one of your religious teachers, said --
made you say, "God loves me, God loves me, God loves me," again and again,
and then said, "Now try to know it."
Maya Angelou: Yes, yes.
DF: What was the liberating effect of knowing it?
MA: David Frost.
DF: Maya Angelou.
MA: As the cockney say, "I come all over queer." Really. The idea that it, this
creation, creator, it, love me, me -- not me generically, but me, Maya Angelou -
- is almost more -- it is more than I can comprehend. It fills me. It enters and
makes me go inflate like a balloon. Really. The most amazing thing. I can't
know it too frequently. I can't know it completely. My heart might burst. My
veins might boil up, and my blood might boil up in my veins. My eyes would
pop out. My navel would thump. My feet would grow about six inches on
either side. Really it has a physiological impact on me. And I can't -- again, it's
something I can't explain. It's probably what people mean when they say, "I got
saved last week or last year." I suppose that's what they mean. But that
knowledge comes to me fresh each time, as if I never knew it before.
DF: In your poem to the U.N., you said, "We, this people, on a small and
lonely plant traveling through casual space, passed a lot of stars, across a way
of indifferent suns to a destination where all signs tell us it is possible and
imperative that we discover a brave and startling truth."
DF: What -- can you see the shape of that brave and startling truth?
MA: Yes. I think we have to start to love life. Again, I didn't think about that
'til this moment, but Thomas Wolfe said in A Web and a Rock, "And in loving
life, hate death." We have got to start loving life and the living. We have to
respect that thing which we cannot create, which is life and stop taking it from
people and stop taking it from things. Stop taking it. We can't make it. We can't
reproduce one single person. Stop minimizing people's lives by our ignorance,
at our whim, for our own personal convenience. You see, I can minimize your
life. I can keep you from getting that job. I can keep you from having respect
for yourself. I can keep you from being able to support your children. I can
keep you from that. I can minimize your life. Yes, I can. So I can live fuller.
Well, we've got to get beyond that. And it is passed aloof stars. I mean, we are
living on this mote of matter. That's exactly what it is. And we live about that
long. (Snaps fingers.) I mean, to realize that the reptiles were on this little blob
of spit and sand for 200 million years and here we are (snaps fingers) moths of
time. And so -- and even so in this little brief interlude, we can pinch out
somebody's life. We have to force ourselves to be more intelligent. I don't mean
intellectually agile either, but really intelligent.
DF: Where did Caged Bird come from, that title?
MA: It came from a poem written by Sir Lawrence Dunbar, a black male poet
writing in the 1800s.
DF: Do you remember that?
MA: Yes. It's called Sympathy -- the poem.
I know what the caged bird feels.
Ah me, when the sun is bright on the upland slopes,
when the wind blows soft through the springing grass
and the river floats like a sheet of glass,
when the first bird sings and the first bud ops,
and the faint perfume from its chalice steals.
I know what the caged bird feels
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
till its blood is red on the cruel bars,
for he must fly back to his perch and cling
when he fain would be on the bow aswing.
And the blood still throbs in the old, old scars
and they pulse again with a keener sting.
I know why he beats his wing.
I know why the caged bird sings.
Ah, me, when its wings are bruised and is bosom sore.
It beats its bars and would be free.
It's not a carol of joy or glee,
but a prayer that it send from its heart's deep core,
but a plea that upward to heaven it flings.
I know why the caged bird sings.
DF: That is a fantastic poem. Fantastic poem. And, I mean, you've escaped
from a cage a few times in your life. You've had crises in your life. And people
have said, "How did she escape from this and how did she escape from that and
go on to the life she's had?" and so on. And you said on one occasion, "How the
hell do you know I did escape? You don't know what demons I still wrestle
with." Is that right?
MA: Of course. Of course. I mean, probably the only true escape is death, but
even that is that undiscovered country from whose bond, you know, no traveler
returns. So -- but, no, there's no --
DF: There's a few demons still?
MA: There are still. I mean, if you have -- it's almost impossible to grow up.
Most people just get older, and they find parking spaces, honor their credit
cards, choose personal preferences in drink, have the nerve to get married and
have children, and they call that growing up. That's not. That's getting older.
Growing up is so painful if you happen to be white in a white country or rich in
a country where money is adored and worshipped. But still, it's very hard.
Growing up is admitting that there are demons you cannot overcome. You
wrestle with the, oh, yes, like the prophet with the angel, you know: "I will not
let you go until you tell me something." But sometimes that's what causes the
tired person to become an insomniac, because the demons are so thick around
DF: And that's where God is needed, too, you would say.
MA: Yes, I would say.
DF: And the greatest of all the virtues in this life, you said once --
MA: Is courage. Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because
without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can
practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.
DF: And the greatest of the three, or whatever it is that the Bible said, is
MA: Well, I say so. The Bible says it's charity or it's love, yes.
DF: Love. Well, you would also say love in a different context.
MA: Yes, that's right.
DF: Well, it's been a joy having this conversation. I've really loved it. If they
decide to have a race commission it this country, would you like to run it?
MA: Oh, God, I'd like to write a poem about it. (Laughs.)
DF: (Laughs.) Than you so much.
MA: Than you very much, David Frost.
Maya Angelou: A Bibliography of Literary
By Jay Brandes
Alden, Daisy. In a review of "The Heart of a Woman." World Literature
Today 46.4 (1982): 697.
Angelou, Maya and Neubaeur, Carol E. Interview in The Massachusetts Review
28.2 (1987): 286-92.
Bailey, Hilary. "Growing Up Black" Guardian Weekly 130.6 (1984): 21.
Bailey, Paul. "Black Ordeal" The Observer April 1, 1984: 22.
Blundell, Janet Boyarin. In a review of &nbsc; "Shaker, Why Don't You Sing?."
Library Journal 108.7(1983): 746,748.
Blundell, Janet Boyarin. In a review of "The Heart of a Woman."
Publishers Weekly 106.17(1981): 1919.
Casey, Ellen Miller. in a review "The Heart of a Women." Best Sellers
January, 1982: 376-77.
Cosgrave, Mary Silva. In a review of "Shaker, Why Don't You Sing?."
The Horn Book Magazine 59.3 (1983): 336.
Freeman, Sharron. In a review of "All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes."
in Voice of Youth Advocates 9.3/4 (1986): 170-71.
Gaines-Carter, Patrice. "Home is Where the Heart is." in Book World -
The Washington Post May 11, 1986: 11-12.
Gargan, Carol. In a review of "And I Still Rise." Best Sellers 38.12 (1979): 404.
Review of "And I Still Rise." Publisher's Weekly 214.5 (1978): 87.
Lewis, David Levering. "Maya Angelou: From Harlem to the Heart of a Woman."
in Book World - The Washington Post October 4, 1991: 1-2.
MacKethan, Lucinda H. "Mother Wit: Humor in Afro-American Women's
Studies in American Humor 4.1/2 (1985): 51-61.
Maddocks, Fiona. In a review of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."
New Statesman 107.2758 (1984): 26.
McDowell, Deborah E. "Traveling Hopefully" The Women's Review of Books
4.1 (1986): 17.
Moore, Leonard D. Review of "I Shall Not Be Moved." In Library Journal
115.10 (1990): 132.
Nebauer, Carol E. "Displacement and Autobiographical Style in Maya Angelou's
'The Heart of a Woman'." Black American Literature Forum 17.3
Miller, David Adam. In a review of "The Heart of a Woman." The Black
Scholar 13.4/5 (1982): 48-49.
Ott, Bill. In a review of "The Heart of a Woman" Booklist 78.1 (1981): 1.
Silva, Candelaria. In a review of "Shaker, Why Don't You Sing?."
School Library Journal 30.1 (1983): 143.
Smith, Sidion Ann. "The Song of a Caged Bird: Maya Angelou's Quest
after Self-acceptance." The Southern Humanities Review Fall 1973:
Stepto, R.B. "The Phenomenal Woman and the Severed Daughter."
Parnassus: Poetry in Review 8.1 (1979): 312-20.
QUOTES FROM MAYA ANGELOU
The main thing in one’s own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry.
Hope has conspired with the wind and blown away the demons of despair.
I long, as ever human being does, to be at home wherever I find myself.
Loneliness can be so real it can feel like sand in the palm of your hand.
I can be changed by what happens to me. I refuse to be reduced by it.
The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach for hearts is wise.
You cannot use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
Let choice whisper in your ear and love murmur in your heart. Be ready. Here comes life.
Have the courage to trust Love one more time. And always one more time.
Love recognizes no barriers.
It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.
Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.
I made the decision to quit show business. Give up the skintight dresses and manicured
smiles. The false concern over sentimental lyrics. I would never again work to make people
smile inanely and would take on the responsibility of making them think.
I try to live what I consider a "poetic existence." That means I take responsibility for the air I
breathe and the space I take up. I try to be immediate, to be totally present for all my work.
If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.
Talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it. You can plug into it and
light up a lamp, keep a heart pump going, light a cathedral, or you can electrocute a person
The horizon leans forward, Offering you space to place new steps of change.
The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence
and necessity when unblunted by formal education.
The thorn from the bush one has planted, nourished and pruned
pricks more deeply and draws more blood.
There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.
There's a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure truth.