Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was born in 1927. She grew up in Stamps, Arkansas with her brother And her grandmother. “Stamps was a small Southern town, harsh and unyielding, by custom and practice, and its history of segregation.” As a young girl, Maya read everything she could get her hands on, from the Bible to Shakespeare to the great black writers, like Dunbar, Hughes, and DuBois. She also enjoyed Dickens and other English classics as well as ancient Classics, such as Beowulf. She was passionate about words and very eloquent in English and French, Italian, Spanish, and Fanti. 

Maya studied drama and dance as well as literature. She wrote poems and songs, becoming a singer and a dancer. Wherever she traveled, she discovered the pleasures and pains of being an American black woman abroad. She traveled all over the world, singing, dancing, and writing. She released five volumes of autobiographical prose during her life, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

She read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. She continued writing, teaching, producing movies and television series, speaking, and encouraging fellow humans until she died in 2014.

The Poems

Internet Resources

Poetry Foundation: Maya Angelou

print Resources*

Photo of Poet: By Clinton Library – William J. Clinton Presidential Library, Public Domain,

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