Poetry for Young People: Maya Angelou

Overview

An acclaimed anthology receives a new design and cover! Award-winning writer, historian, and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou is a true American icon. Twenty-five of her finest poems capture a range of emotions and experiences, from the playful “Harlem Hopscotch” to the prideful “Me and My Work” to the soul-stirring “Still I Rise.” Award-winning artist Jerome Lagarrigue masterfully illustrates each verse, and renowned academic Dr. Edwin Graves Wilson, a longtime colleague of Dr. Angelou, has written the ...

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Overview

An acclaimed anthology receives a new design and cover! Award-winning writer, historian, and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou is a true American icon. Twenty-five of her finest poems capture a range of emotions and experiences, from the playful “Harlem Hopscotch” to the prideful “Me and My Work” to the soul-stirring “Still I Rise.” Award-winning artist Jerome Lagarrigue masterfully illustrates each verse, and renowned academic Dr. Edwin Graves Wilson, a longtime colleague of Dr. Angelou, has written the book's introduction, introductions to the poems, and annotations.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Augusta Scattergood
Part of the "Poetry for Young People" series, this visually attractive picture book begins with a four-page introduction that includes not only biographical information but also explains to young readers how certain poems relate to the time Angelou was growing up. The twenty-five selections begin with a brief explanation of each poem that should make them more accessible to young readers unfamiliar with the language. These explanations also include definitions of words they may not know. In "Songs for the Old Ones" we are told that this is a tribute to older African-Americans who survived slavery and cruelty with pride. Some of the words defined at the end of the poem include Aunt Jemimas, coffles ("a line of slaves chained together in transit"), and profound. Dr. Edwin Graves Wilson, a professor of English at Wake Forest and a colleague of Angelou's, has written the introduction to the book and the annotations to the individual poems. Award-winning illustrator Lagarrigue's stunning illustrations—such as the wistful little girl sitting on the steps in "Little Girl Speaking" and "Willie," the stooped old man leaning on a cane, a backdrop of gold and green and blue swirling around—add tremendously to the appeal of this book. Other "Poetry for Young People" titles include Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe and Langston Hughes. Maya Angelou is the first living poet to be a part of the series. Reviewer: Augusta Scattergood
School Library Journal

Gr 4 Up-Wilson's introduction to the first living poet in this series addresses how Angelou's life has informed her imagination, moving from her childhood in segregated Arkansas, where she discovered both the harshness and the beauty of language, to her political and humanitarian engagement as an adult. Twenty-five poems show her concern with the African-American experience from the evil of enslavement to contemporary struggles and achievements. Dignity, pride, and resiliency are at this collection's core. Popular selections include "Life Doesn't Frighten Me," "Willie," "Woman Work," "Still I Rise," and "Caged Bird." Brief captions appear below the titles to aid young readers. For example, before "Caged Bird," Wilson explains that the title is from Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "Sympathy," which Angelou also used for the title of her first book. Footnotes offer definitions of colloquialisms and difficult words. Lagarrigue's painterly artwork uses golds, greens, and violets to capture the luminescent quality of the poems. Sometimes the work recalls the glowing light in a Turner or a Rembrandt, especially the illustration for "A Georgia Song." This distinguished work will be appreciated by those studying American history and literature.-Teresa Pfeifer, Alfred Zanetti Montessori Magnet School, Springfield, MA

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402720239
  • Publisher: Sterling
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Series: Poetry for Young People Series
  • Edition description: Illustrated
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is an award-winning poet, author, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, singer, and civil rights activist. Her books include the bestselling autobiographies I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Die, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She received a Tony-award nomination for Look Away, and in 1993 won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for On the Pulse of Morning.

For more than 50 years, Dr. Edwin Graves Wilson has been a much-admired educator at Wake Forest College, from which he graduated before going on to receive his MA and PhD from Harvard University. He has served as Provost at Wake Forest, as well as Dean of the college and Senior Vice President, and also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Campbell University. Wilson has served on many councils and boards, including the Carolina Arts Council, Piedmont Opera Theatre, and Museum of American Art.

Jerome Lagarrigue won the Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe award for best new talent and the Ezra Jack Keats award for best illustrator for Freedom Summer (Simon & Schuster). He was also awarded the Miriam Vanett Ridgway award for best illustrator for My Man Blue, published by Penguin, and was the recipient of the prestigious Villa Medicis grant and residency program in Rome.

Biography

As a chronicler of her own story and the larger civil rights movement in which she took part, Maya Angelou is remarkable in equal measure for her lyrical gifts as well as her distinct sense of justice, both politically and personally.

Angelou was among the first, if not the first, to create a literary franchise based on autobiographical writings. In the series' six titles -- beginning with the classic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and followed by Gather Together in My Name, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, Heart of a Woman, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, and 2002's A Song Flung Up to Heaven -- Angelou tells her story in language both no-nonsense and intensely spiritual.

Angelou's facility with language, both on paper and as a suede-voiced speaker, have made her a populist poet. Her 1995 poem "Phenomenal Woman" is still passed along the Web among women as inspiration ("It's in the reach of my arms/The span of my hips/The stride of my steps/The curl of my lips./I'm a woman/Phenomenally/Phenomenal woman/That's me"), and her 1993 poem "On the Pulse of the Morning," written for Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration, was later released as a Grammy-winning album.

Angelou often cites other writers (from Kenzaburo Oe to James Baldwin) both in text and name. But as often as not, her major mentors were not writers – she had been set to work with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. before each was assassinated, stories she recounts in A Song Flung Up to Heaven.

Given her rollercoaster existence -- from poverty in Arkansas to journalism in Egypt and Ghana and ultimately, to her destiny as a successful writer and professor in the States – it's no surprise that Angelou hasn't limited herself to one or two genres. Angelou has also written for stage and screen, acted, and directed. She is the rare author from whom inspiration can be derived both from her approach to life as from her talent in writing about it. Reading her books is like taking counsel from your wisest, favorite aunt.

Good To Know

Angelou was nominated for an Emmy for her performance as Nyo Boto in the 1977 miniseries Roots. She has also appeared in films such as How to Make an American Quilt and Poetic Justice, and she directed 1998's Down in the Delta.

Angelou speaks six languages, including West African Fanti.

She taught modern dance at the Rome Opera House and the Hambina Theatre in Tel Aviv.

Before she became famous as a writer, Maya Angelou was a singer. Miss Calypso is a CD of her singing calypso songs.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Margeurite Johnson
      Maya Angelou
    2. Hometown:
      Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 4, 1928
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Louis, Missouri
    1. Education:
      High school in Atlanta and San Francisco

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  • Posted March 12, 2012

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