Friday, March 20, 2009

maya poet...

Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. Born Marguerite Johnson, she and her older brother, Bailey, lived in the city until their parents divorced in 1931. They were sent to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with their grandmother. Four years later, the siblings moved to Chicago, Illinois, to be with their mother but, not long after the relocation, Angelou was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend. She returned to Stamps with Bailey but refused to speak to anyone except her brother for nearly four years after the incident.

In 1940, Bailey and Angelou moved to San Francisco, California, to try once again to live with their mother. Angelou dropped out of high school in 1944 and worked as the first African-American cable car operator in the city. She soon returned to her education and graduated from Mission High School in 1945. That same year she gave birth to her son, Guy. Angelou left home soon after Guy’s birth and worked tirelessly to support herself and her young child. She married her first husband, Tosh Angelos, in 1952. From an early age, Angelou had loved performing–singing, dancing, and acting–and in 1953 she began to work as a performer. After she toured nationally with “Porgy and Bess” from 1954 to 1955, she started to write song lyrics that inspired poetry, short stories, and a move to New York to join the Harlem Writers Guild in 1959.

Angelou’s career from that point on is best described as a whirlwind of talent, creativity, honesty, and ambition. She moved with Guy to Africa after her marriage to Vusumzi Make and edited newspapers in Cairo, Egypt, and Accra, Ghana. She taught at the University of Ghana’s School of Music and Drama. … her first Pulitzer Prize-nominated collection of poems, titled Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Die … At home in the United States, Angelou worked closely with Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the civil rights movement, and was devastated when both were assassinated. She turned to writing, and published the first of her many autobiographical works, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in 1970. The following year, she published her first Pulitzer Prize-nominated collection of poems, titled Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Die. She took the worlds of television, cinema, and Broadway by storm writing, producing, directing, and starring in countless productions, many of which won very prestigious awards. Her screenplay for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and she herself was nominated for two Tony Awards for her performances in Look Away (1973) and Roots (1977).

Angelou continues to write poetry and autobiographical works as well as involve herself in acting and television. She currently teaches at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

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