Maya Angelou 1928 - 2014
Born Marguerite Annie Johnson, Maya Angelou has been influencing readers for generations. Her fans didn't fall in love with her work because she ‘knew why the caged bird sang.’ Fans of Angelou, love her work because her words were the notes that shared the verses of her life. She was open, raw, and the pain she expressed was real.
For her transcendent literary influence, former President Obama honored Angelou with the nation's highest civilian award - the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Eleven years prior, Angelou received the Presidential Medal of the Arts. In life and in death, Angelou's words have influenced everyone fortunate enough to be exposed to them.
Being raped by her mother’s boyfriend as a young girl drove Angelou into a period of silence after the man was killed. Angelou believed her voice was the catalyst for his death. This sparked her literary curiosity. When Angelou decided to speak, she “had a lot to say,” as she found her voice in literature.
Angelou was more than ‘Caged Bird,” and her legacy will not be defined by the volume of her work (which is extensive). Instead, memories of Angelou will center on the depth of her characters and the emotions her words evoked.
Reading an Angelou poem, essay, or novel is a unique experience. Her professorial prose was authentic and unmatched. Her pace was optimal. And the stories she told were unforgettable. Angelou wrote the screenplay for the film Georgia, Georgia in 1972. That screenplay was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and was the first written by an African American woman to ever be filmed.
Her collection of published work could fill a small library. The following is an incomprehensive list of her most popular work:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Even the Stars Look Lonesome
Shaker Why Don’t You Sing?
Still I Rise
All God’s Children Need Travelin’ Shoes
I Shall Not Be Moved
Letter to My Daughter
The Heart of a Woman
Gather Together in My Name