Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

Maya Angelou
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(born Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4, 1928) was an American author and poet who has been called "America's most visible black female autobiographer" by scholar Joanne M. Braxton. She is best known for her series of six autobiographical volumes, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first and most highly acclaimed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her first seventeen years. It brought her international recognition, and was nominated for a National Book Award. She has been awarded over 30 honorary degrees and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her 1971 volume of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie.

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  • ''There is a kind of strength that is almost frightening in black women. It's as if a steel rod runs right through the head down to the feet.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author. interview broadcast, Nov. 21, 1973. "A Conversation with Maya Angelou," Conversations with Maya Angelou (1989).
  • ...there is a difference between being convinced and being stubborn. I'm not certain what the difference is, but I do know that if you butt your head against a stone wall long enough, at some point yo...
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author and performer. As quoted in Reel Women, part 4, by Ally Acker (1991). Said in 1979, on giving up her attempt t...
  • ''...talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author and performer. Black Women Writers at Work, ch. 1, by Claudia Tate (1983).
  • ''I thought if war did not include killing, I'd like to see one every year.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), African American author and performer. Gather Together in My Name, ch. 1 (1974). On the sense of "festival" in the San Fra...
  • ''Self-pity in its early stage is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author. Gather Together in My Name, vol. 2, ch. 6 (1974).
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Best Poem of Maya Angelou

Phenomenal Woman

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.
I say,
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
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my ...

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