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Maya Angelou: Author and Poet

Content last modified March 2011


Maya Angelou is an award-winning poet, playwright, professor, theatrical producer, performer, and singer. Her honesty, strength, spirituality, and deep sense of personal pride enable Maya Angelou to write powerfully about her very complex life. The autobiographical books include memories of her childhood, her experiences as a teenage mother, her struggle to break into show business, and her political activism. Her writings have been put in special formats over several decades. The annotations given here are from the most recently produced special format book.

Maya Angelou's audience was appreciably widened when she read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the request of President-elect Clinton for his first inauguration.

This minibibliography includes her autobiographical books, memoirs, and poetry available in braille and/or analog and digital audiobook formats.

Digital audio titles are also available on the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD), https://nlsbard.loc.gov, which allows eligible patrons to download digital talking books and audio magazines. Patrons who wish to use BARD must have basic computer and Internet skills and a high-speed Internet connection.  Some of the digital books are available only by download from BARD.

Most braille titles are available on NLS Web-Braille at www.loc.gov/nls/braille  (available only to registered users of Web-Braille).

Autobiographical Series

These books should be read in the following order.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Memoir by well-known African American poet and college professor Maya Angelou.  She describes her childhood and adolescent years in rural Arkansas, in St. Louis, and in San Francisco, and the racial and gender hardships she endured.  1969.

DB 57200  (May be available only for download)    
RC 57200   
BR 15665

Gather Together in My Name
A continuation of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, this memoir begins at the end of World War II.  Angelou recalls being an unwed mother at seventeen and becoming a prostitute for an older man who deceived her.  Some descriptions of sex and some strong language.  1974.

DB 56481  (May be available only for download) 
RC 56481  
BR 16910

Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas
In this third volume of her memoirs, Angelou covers her twenties.  Describes her first relationships with the white world, early motherhood, and her show business career that began when she was a dancer in a San Francisco club.  1976.

DB 56941
RC 56941  
BR 16943

The Heart of a Woman
Angelou continues her memoir following Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry like Christmas. Describes her involvement in the 1960s civil rights movement, sharing recollections of activists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. Recounts her affair with a South African freedom fighter.  Strong language.  Bestseller 1981.

RC 17325   
BR 16950

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes
African American poet, actress, civil rights activist, and television producer-director recalls a 1960s pilgrimage to Ghana to connect with her ancestral roots. Describes her sadness and disillusionment at the lack of acceptance among native Ghanaians. Some strong language. 1986.

DB 25432   (May be available only for download) 
RC 25432    
BR 17159

A Song Flung Up to Heaven
In this sixth volume of her memoirs, Angelou documents her return to America from Ghana in the 1960s to participate in the civil rights movement. Discusses the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., the Watts riots, her friendship with James Baldwin--and their impact on her life.  Bestseller.  2002.

RC 54044  
BR 17099

Memoir and More

Hallelujah! the Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes
Favorite recipes from Angelou’s southern childhood and penny-pinching days and from her more-recent repertoire of elaborate feasts.  Includes anecdotes and stories of dining at home and with her good friends.  Bestseller.  2004.

DB 59469  (May be available only for download)   
RC 59469  

Letter to My Daughter
Angelou shares life lessons in the form of reminiscences, poems, and short essays with her thousands of young daughters all over the world.  In “Senegal” Angelou commits a social faux pas that her hostess graciously ignores.  Bestseller.  2008.

DB 67662
RC 67662  
BR 17865

Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
A collection of short essays in which Angelou discusses the value of charity, her faith in God, and the deaths of loved ones.  She shares her thoughts on discovering an authentic personal style, the insidious effects of racism, and pregnancy as an experience shared by a woman and her mate.  Angelou also includes reminiscences of her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas; of being a single mother; and of dancing with Alvin Ailey.

RC 37303   
BR 09378


And Still I Rise
A book of verse celebrating life, love, womanhood, and remembrance.  1978.

DB 12970  (May be available only for download)   
RC 12970  

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou
In this collection of more than 150 poems, Angelou celebrates the lives of black people, though many of her poems are universal in their appeal.  She uses speech patterns of southern blacks and of the street-wise hip, the currents of blues and jazz, and the rhythm of rap.  The collection includes “Still I Rise” and “On the Pulse of Morning.”  1994.

DB 42918  (May be available only for download) 
RC 42918 

I Shall Not be Moved
A collection of poetry on the joys and pathos, pains and triumphs of African American life by the noted author, poet, civil rights activist, and producer-director of the stage and screen.  1990.

BR 08559

Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie ; the Poetry of Maya Angelou
Collection of warm, joyful, raging, and proud poems that reflect the sense of life, love, and loneliness.  1971.

BR 03408

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Posted on 2017-04-04