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Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Angelou

"You can write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I rise."

This extract from one of Maya's best loved poems, Still I Rise, sums up a women who experienced life, warts and all. Born in St Louis during the Depression, her parents, a dietician and a nurse, split up when she was three. She and her siblings were sent on a train to live with her grandmother in Arkansas with a tag tied around her neck, which said 'to whom it may concern'. The children occasionally later visited their mother who had moved to California. On one of these trips, aged seven, Maya was raped by her mother's boyfriend. When she named him in court, her uncles went out and kicked him to death. Maya refused to speak after that for five years believing that if she did it might cause someone else to die. She spent this time of self-enforced quietude in reading voraciously. She only started speaking again after a kind teacher told her that words were more powerful when spoken aloud than in books.

At 17 Maya became a single mother and took various jobs in order to support her son including streetcar driver, barman and for a short while even prostitute. She was married briefly to a Greek man, from whom she acquired the name Angelou. She starred in the stage version of Porgy and Bess on its triumphant tour. With her lover Vusumzi Make, the civil rights activist, she travelled to Ghana where she met Malcolm X. His assassination and later that of Martin Luther King left her profoundly depressed.

Angelou However she got a new sense of purpose from the New York editor, Robert Loomis who goaded her into writing her memoirs. Six volumes later with their critical acclaim, she took on the role of a 'symbol of strength overcoming struggle'. Never one to shy away from her critics she underwent a gruelling round of lectures and readings despite increasing poor health. A heavy drinker and smoker, she had once commented to her friend Oprah Winfrey that she should give up smoking, drinking and cursing since she was now thought of a role model for young people. However she only ever managed to give up the last one!

Maya continued to enthral her audiences with her rich honeyed voice, statuesque 6ft figure and her message of humanity and fortitude. She always insisted she was still the same person she was in her youth and in her famous poem On Aging, she wrote

"A little less hair, a little less chin
A lot less lungs and much less wind,
But ain't I lucky I can still breathe in."

During her lifetime she accomplished more than most including being a journalist, editor, lyricist, teacher, singer, dancer, black activist, professor and the holder of some 50 honorary degrees. She will be most remembered though as the author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first volume of her autobiography depicting her growing up as a black girl in the American South.

We at cj-books-etc are pleased to stock copies of her work including:

Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey

Hardback 1993 published by Random House

Maya distills her remarkable wisdom about being in all ways a woman, about charity, about spirit, about death and legacy.
ISBN 0679427430

Used like new for £8.99 with FREE delivery for UK addresses.

Please contact us to discuss possible shipment overseas.

Even The Stars Look Lonesome Even The Stars Look Lonesome

Hardback 1998 published by Virago

This is the work of a wonderful woman who is not afraid to admit to the mistakes and vulnerabilities that make us human.
ISBN 1860494706

Used very good for £7.99 with FREE delivery for UK addresses.

Please contact us to discuss possible shipment overseas.

The Heart of a Woman Heart of a Woman

Paperback 1986 by Virago

New for £6.99 with FREE delivery for UK addresses.

Please contact us to discuss possible shipment overseas.

Gather Together in My Name Gather

Paperback 1985 by Virago

New for £6.99 with FREE delivery for UK addresses.

Please contact us to discuss possible shipment overseas.

Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas Singin

Paperback 2002 by Virago

New for £6.99 with FREE delivery for UK addresses.

Please contact us to discuss possible shipment overseas.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven Song

Hardback 2002 by Virago

Used, good for £6.99 with FREE delivery for UK addresses.

Please contact us to discuss possible shipment overseas.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven Song

Paperback 2005 by Virago

Used, good for £4.99 with FREE delivery for UK addresses.

Please contact us to discuss possible shipment overseas.

Angelou

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