Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Maya Angelou

Author: Maya Angelou
Born: April 4, 1928; St. Louis, Missouri

A Brave and Startling Truth, 1995
Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women, 1994
The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou, 1994
On the Pulse of Morning, 1993
I Shall Not Be Moved: Poems, 1990
Now Sheba Sings the Song, 1987 (Tom Feelings, illustrator)
Poems: Maya Angelou, 1986
Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?, 1983
And Still I Rise, 1978
Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well, 1975
Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Diiie, 1971 ncipal Works

teleplays
Brewster Place, 1990
Sister, Sister, 1982
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1979 (with Leonora Thuna and Ralph B. Woolsey)
The Legacy, 1976
The Inheritors, 1976
Black, Blues, Black, 1968 (ten epidsodes)

children’s literature
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, 1993 (poetry; illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat)
Soul Looks Back in Wonder, 1993
My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me, 1994
Kofi and His Magic, 1996
Izak of Lapland, 2004
Mikale of Hawaii, 2004
Renie Marie of France, 2004
Angelina of Italy, 2004
Mrs. Flowers: A Moment of Friendship, 1986 (1986)

nonfiction
Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes, 2004 (memoir and cookbook)
A Song Flung Up to Heaven, 2002 (autobiographical essays)
Even the Stars Look Lonesome, 1997
Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, 1993 (autobiographical essays)
All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, 1986 (autobiography)
The Heart of a Woman, 1981 (autobiography)
Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas, 1976 (autobiography)
Gather Together in My Name, 1974 (autobiography)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1970 (1970)

short fiction
“Steady Going Up,”, 1972 (1972)

drama
King, pr., 1990 (musical; lyrics with Alistair Beaton, book by Lonne Elder III; music by Richard Blackford)
And Still I Rise, pr., 1976
Ajax, pr., 1974 (adaptation of Sophocles’ play)
Encounters, pr., 1973
The Least of These, pr., 1966
Cabaret for Freedom, pr., 1960 (1960)

screenplays
All Day Long, 1974
Georgia, Georgia, 1972

In the first volume of her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970), Maya Angelou shares her experience of growing up as a poor black female in the segregated rural South. Throughout her career she has continued to draw on her own experiences as the subject matter for her work. She has published four more volumes of her personal narrative showing how she was able to overcome obstacles posed by her race and gender to achieve success in many areas. In Gather Together in My Name (1974), Angelou writes about a difficult period in her life, a time when she was forced to work at menial jobs to support herself and her son. In Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976), Angelou describes her life as a dancer and actress, including her travels with the cast of Porgy and Bess. The next two volumes, The Heart of a Woman (1981) and All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986) the rise of her career.

Angelou’s early exposure to spirituals and gospel music influenced her poetry. This poetry reveals a woman whose faith has sustained her in difficult times, and the rhythm of gospel music finds its way into her poetry. She has published several volumes of poetry: Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Diiie (1971), which earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination; Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975), whose title came from a nineteenth century spiritual; And Still I Rise (1978); Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? (1983); Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987); and I Shall Not Be Moved (1990).

Her firsthand knowledge of the harmful effects of racism led her to become a political activist, working for civil rights and for a wider understanding of the African American culture. In the 1960’s, at the request of Martin Luther King, Jr., Angelou served as the northern coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Her knowledge of the traditions and culture of black society went beyond political activism as Angelou worked to share this culture with a wider audience. She produced Blacks, Blues, Black (1968) for National Educational Television. This ten-part series explored African traditions in American life. Other television credits that deal with African American culture include Assignment America (1975), The Legacy (1976), The Inheritors (1976), and Trying to Make It Home (1988).

The diversity of her experiences and considerable talents have led her into the fields of dance, theater, and film. As an actress, she is probably best known for her portrayal of Kunta Kinte’s grandmother in the television production of Alex Haley’s Roots (1977). She played the role of the grandmother in the 1993 television film, There Are No Children Here. In addition to her acting career, she has produced and directed for the stage and screen. She also wrote the screenplays for Georgia, Georgia (1972) and All Day Long (1974), and collaborated on the teleplay for Sister, Sister (1982). In 1995 she had a cameo role in How to Make and American Quilt, and in 1998 she directed her first film: Down in the Delta.

In recognition of Angelou’s many accomplishments she has been awarded a variety of honors. Ladies’ Home Journal named her “Woman of the Year in Communications” in 1976. She holds honorary doctorates from the University of Arkansas, Claremont College Graduate School, Ohio State University, Atlanta University, Wheaton College, Occidental College, Columbia College, Kean College, Smith College, Mills College, Lawrence University, and Wake Forest University and others. At the request of President Bill Clinton, Angelou wrote and delivered the commemorative poem at his inauguration on January 20, 1993. This poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” was later published by Random House. Angelou holds a lifetime appointment as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

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