Marguerita Johnson, whose pen name is Maya Angelou, was born in St. Louis Missouri on April 4, 1928. (Biography.com) Although Maya is most commonly known for her work as a poet, she was also an author, playwright, stage and screen producer, director, and singer. (Angelou, 7).
Throughout Maya’s childhood, she moved back and forth, between her mother’s house and her grandmother’s house. In 1936, during a visit to her mother’s house, her mother’s boyfriend raped Maya. She was only 8 years old. She was forced to testify against him in court, but a few days before the trial, the defendant was found beaten to death, allegedly by Maya’s uncles. Maya took the whole experience very hard, and became mute for five years. She moved back to Stamps Arkansas, which is where she discovered poetry. Poetry is what helped her get over her tragedy. (Biography.com)
Maya had a tough childhood, and an even harder life as an adult. After she had her son, her husband left her. She had to have many different jobs in order to feed her son and herself. They included being a waitress and being a prostitute. In 1947, a white sales clerk was ridiculing Maya, so she started a fight with him. Her grandmother sent her back to live with her mother, because she was afraid there would be an attack by the Ku Klux Klan. (Modern, 219,220) Later in her early adulthood, Maya tried to enlist in the United States Army. She was turned down because her childhood school was suspected to be a training ground for future communists. (Biography.com)
Although Maya’s poetry and books are like by many, some people disagree with the fact that her poems and books are published. Many of her writings deal with the role of African Culture in American life. (Biography.com) Many racists believe that she shouldn’t be allowed to publish this stuff because they feel it is not important.
Maya’s first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, “opens with a primal childhood scene that brings into focus the nature of the imprisoning environment from which the self will seek escape. This work displays on impulse towards transcendence and is one of the most satisfying autobiographies written by a black woman.” (Voices From the Past). I agree with the author of this website. I think that Maya is an extremely talented author. The book does a very good job at explaining how hard it was for Maya in times when Caucasian people thought they were better than the African Americans.
“Her genius as a writer is her ability to recapture the texture of the way of life” (1st person). I think Sidonnie Ann Smith is trying to say that her poems and books are so good because she uses a lot of imagery in her writing. If it wasn’t for the imagery, people would still get the point, but they wouldn’t be able to tell how hard it was for Maya to live, and fight for African American rights.
Maya Angelou is a very talented woman. She has published many books, poems, and plays. She has acted in many plays, and became the northern coordinator of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. (Modern, 220) She has worked hard to gain the respect that she now has. And although some people don’t like her, or her work, I think she is a very talented person.