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About Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou has been waitress, singer, actress, dancer, activist, filmmaker, writer and mother. As well as her autobiography she has written several volumes of poetry, including 'On the Pulse of the Morning' for the inauguration of President Clinton. She now has a life-time appointment as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
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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 the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.”—James Baldwin
Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter transcends genres and categories: guidebook, memoir, poetry, and pure delight.
Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters and taught her lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward, six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.
Whether she is recalling such lost friends as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a “lifelong endeavor,” or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice–Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.
Like the rest of her remarkable work, Letter to My Daughter entertains and teaches; it is a book to cherish, savor, re-read, and share.
“I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native Americans and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you.”—from Letter to My Daughter
Throughout her illustrious career in letters, Maya Angelou gifted, healed, and inspired the world with her words. Now the beauty and spirit of those words live on in this new and complete collection of poetry that reflects and honors the writer’s remarkable life.
Every poetic phrase, every poignant verse can be found within the pages of this sure-to-be-treasured volume—from her reflections on African American life and hardship in the compilation Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Diiie (“Though there’s one thing that I cry for / I believe enough to die for / That is every man’s responsibility to man”) to her revolutionary celebrations of womanhood in the poem “Still I Rise” (“Out of the huts of history’s shame / I rise / Up from a past that’s rooted in pain / I rise”) to her “On the Pulse of Morning” tribute at President William Jefferson Clinton’s inauguration (“Lift up your eyes upon / The day breaking for you. / Give birth again / To the dream.”).
Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry also features her final long-form poems, including “A Brave and Startling Truth,” “Amazing Peace,” “His Day Is Done,” and the honest and endearing Mother:
“I feared if I let you go
You would leave me eternally.
You smiled at my fears, saying
I could not stay in your lap forever”
This collection also includes the never-before-published poem “Amazement Awaits,” commissioned for the 2008 Olympic Games:
“We are here at the portal of the world we had wished for
At the lintel of the world we most need.
We are here roaring and singing.
We prove that we can not only make peace, we can bring it with us.”
Timeless and prescient, this definitive compendium will warm the hearts of Maya Angelou’s most ardent admirers as it introduces new readers to the legendary poet, activist, and teacher—a phenomenal woman for the ages.
Her compassion and commitment lead her to respond to the fiery times by becoming the northern coordinator of Martin Luther King's history-making quest. A tempestuous, earthy woman, she promises her heart to one man only to have it stolen, virtually on her weding day, by a passionate African freedom fighter.
Filled with unforgettable vignettes of famous characters, from Billie Holiday to Malcolm X, The Heart of a Woman sings with Maya Angelou's eloquent prose -- her fondest dreams, deepest disappointments, and her dramatically tender relationship with her rebellious teenage son. Vulnerable, humorous, tough, Maya speaks with an intimate awareness of the heart within all of us.
This Modern Library edition contains I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gather Together in My Name, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas, The Heart of a Woman, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, and A Song Flung Up to Heaven.
When I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published to widespread acclaim in 1969, Maya Angelou garnered the attention of an international audience with the triumphs and tragedies of her childhood in the American South. This soul-baring memoir launched a six-book epic spanning the sweep of the author’s incredible life. Now, for the first time, all six celebrated and bestselling autobiographies are available in this handsome one-volume edition.
Dedicated fans and newcomers alike can follow the continually absorbing chronicle of Angelou’s life: her formative childhood in Stamps, Arkansas; the birth of her son, Guy, at the end of World War II; her adventures traveling abroad with the famed cast of Porgy and Bess; her experience living in a black expatriate “colony” in Ghana; her intense involvement with the civil rights movement, including her association with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X; and, finally, the beginning of her writing career.
The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou traces the best and worst of the American experience in an achingly personal way. Angelou has chronicled her remarkable journey and inspired people of every generation and nationality to embrace life with commitment and passion.
Celebrations is a collection of timely and timeless poems that are an integral part of the global fabric. Several works have become nearly as iconic as Angelou herself: the inspiring “On the Pulse of Morning,” read at President William Jefferson Clinton’s 1993 inauguration; the heartening “Amazing Peace,” presented at the 2005 lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the White House; “A Brave and Startling Truth,” which marked the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations; and “Mother,” which beautifully honors the first woman in our lives. Angelou writes of celebrations public and private, a bar mitzvah wish to her nephew, a birthday greeting to Oprah Winfrey, and a memorial tribute to the late Luther Vandross and Barry White.
More than a writer, Angelou is a chronicler of history, an advocate for peace, and a champion for the planet, as well as a patriot, a mentor, and a friend. To be shared and cherished, the wisdom and poetry of Maya Angelou proves there is always cause for celebration.
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
Thus begins “Phenomenal Woman,” just one of the beloved poems collected here in Maya Angelou’s third book of verse. These poems are powerful, distinctive, and fresh—and, as always, full of the lifting rhythms of love and remembering. And Still I Rise is written from the heart, a celebration of life as only Maya Angelou has discovered it.
“It is true poetry she is writing,” M.F.K. Fisher has observed, “not just rhythm, the beat, rhymes. I find it very moving and at times beautiful. It has an innate purity about it, unquenchable dignity. . . . It is astounding, flabbergasting, to recognize it, in all the words I read every day and night . . . it gives me heart, to hear so clearly the caged bird singing and to understand her notes.”
As the book opens, Maya, in order to support herself and her young son, gets a job in a record shop run by a white woman. Suspicious of almost any kindness shown her, she is particularly confused by the special attentions of a young white customer. Soon the relationship grows into love and then marriage, and Maya believes a permanent relationship is finally possible. But it is not to be, and she is again forced to look for work.
This time she finds a job as a dancer in a sleazy San Francisco bar. Her remarkable talent, however, soon brings her attention of a different kind, and before long she is singing in one of the most popular nightclubs on the coast. From there, she is called to New York to join the cast of Porgy and Bess, which is just about to begin another tour abroad.
The troupe’s joyous and dramatic adventure through Italy, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Egypt becomes the centerpiece of Singin’ and Swingin’. This remarkable portrayal of one of the most exciting and talented casts ever put together, and of the encounters between these larger-than-life personalities and audiences who had rarely seen black people before, makes a hilarious and poignant story. The excitement of the journey—full of camaraderie, love affairs, and memorable personalities—is dampened only by Maya's nagging guilt that she has once again abandoned the person she loves most in life, her son.
Back home, and driven close to suicide by her guilt and concern, she takes her son with her to Hawaii, where she discovers that devotion and love, in spite of forced absence, have the power to heal and sustain.
As always, Maya Angelou’s writing is charged with that remarkable sense of life and love and unique celebration of the human condition that have won her such a loyal following.
“A curiously heartening story in which decency, honor, truth, love do exist, imperfectly, fractionally and flickeringly, not in some Platonic realm of the ideal, but in the flawed lives of real men and women.”—The Washington Post
Gather Together in My Name continues Maya Angelou’s personal story, begun so unforgettably in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The time is the end of World War II and there is a sense of optimism everywhere. Maya Angelou, still in her teens, has given birth to a son. But the next few years are difficult ones as she tries to find a place in the world for herself and her child. She goes from job to job–and from man to man. She tries to return home–back to Stamps, Arkansas–but discovers that she is no longer part of that world. Then Maya’s life takes a dramatic turn, and she faces new challenges and temptations.
Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf Book Club Pick!
The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.
For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.
Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights.
Praise for Mom & Me & Mom
“Mom & Me & Mom is delivered with Angelou’s trademark good humor and fierce optimism. If any resentments linger between these lines, if lives are partially revealed without all the bitter details exposed, well, that is part of Angelou’s forgiving design. As an account of reconciliation, this little book is just revealing enough, and pretty irresistible.”—The Washington Post
“Moving . . . a remarkable portrait of two courageous souls.”—People
“[The] latest, and most potent, of her serial autobiographies . . . [a] tough-minded, tenderhearted addition to Angelou’s spectacular canon.”—Elle
“Mesmerizing . . . Angelou has a way with words that can still dazzle us, and with her mother as a subject, Angelou has a near-perfect muse and mystery woman.”—Essence
In this beautiful, deeply moving poem, Maya Angelou inspires us to embrace the peace and promise of Christmas, so that hope and love can once again light up our holidays and the world. “Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers, look heavenward,” she writes, “and speak the word aloud. Peace.”
Read by the poet at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the White House on December 1, 2005, Maya Angelou’ s celebration of the “Glad Season” is a radiant affirmation of the goodness of life.