Maya Angelou: Poems


Angelou is best known for her seven autobiographies, but she was also a prolific and successful poet. She was called "the black woman's poet laureate", and her poems have been called the anthems of African Americans.[134] Angelou studied and began writing poetry at a young age, and used poetry and other great literature to cope with her rape as a young girl, as described in Caged Bird.[17] According to scholar Yasmin Y. DeGout, literature also affected Angelou's sensibilities as the poet and writer she became, especially the "liberating discourse that would evolve in her own poetic canon".[149]

Many critics consider Angelou's autobiographies more important than her poetry.[150] Although all her books have been best-sellers, her poetry has not been perceived to be as serious as her prose and has been understudied.[5] Her poems were more interesting when she recited and performed them, and many critics emphasized the public aspect of her poetry.[151] Angelou's lack of critical acclaim has been attributed to both the public nature of many of her poems and to Angelou's popular success, and to critics' preferences for poetry as a written form rather than a verbal, performed one.[152] Zofia Burr has countered Angelou's critics by condemning them for not taking into account Angelou's larger purposes in her writing: "to be representative rather than individual, authoritative rather than confessional".[153]

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