Friday, June 17, 2011

Saturday Biography: Maya Angelou--"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"

Title: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”
Author: Maya Angelou

About the Author:
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has to; it sings because it has a song.”
Maya Angelou.

I find it a humbling affair to attempt to present the work of poet, educator, historian, educator, playwright, director, producer, actress Maya Angelou. An African American, Dr. Angelou was born in 1928 in Missouri and raised there and in Stamps, Arkansas. She studied dance and drama in San Francisco and became a significant force in the civil rights movement in the United States. Her participation in so many aspects of the artistic life earned her the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000. She wrote and presented a poem for the occasion of President Bill Clinton’s Inauguration in 1993.

You can listen to her recitation of “On the Pulse of the Morning” at

Publisher: Random House, 1969

Story Summary: The author’s rich life lent itself, not to a single autobiography, but to a series, of which this book is the first installation, covering her childhood and early teenage years. The victims of a failed marriage, Angelou and her brother, Bailey, were foisted upon her paternal grandmother at ages 3 and 4 respectively. Raised primarily in Stamps, Arkansas she experienced the significant hardships of being raised Negro in the American deep south in the years prior to the Civil Right’s Movement. For a short period of time, she was reunited with her mother in Saint Louis where she experienced the guilt that accompanies sexual molestation and the death of her abuser shortly after his trial. After this horror, she was returned to the care of her grandmother until age thirteen when she and Bailey once again joined their mother (a prostitute) in San Francisco. The story is one of survival…no, excellence, in the face of the utmost adversity.

Comments: Reading this memoir was a feast of words, descriptions, story, metaphor. A poet writing prose, Angelou has spoiled my taste for the banal. (The lyrical quality of her work makes me want to incinerate my own manuscripts!) This book has had and will have appeal for people all over the globe, especially those facing discrimination of any type. The characters are living, breathing, strong, flawed human beings.

Read more about this remarkable woman on her blog, referenced above and at Wikipedia:


Linda Bob Grifins Korbetis Hall said...


I actually read this book a few years ago,
what a surprise to see you go over it.

She is a strong poet who speak powerfully in poetic words.

Blessed to see this feature.

Indie said...

This is one of my most favorite books!