In her poetry, as in the five volumes of autobiography upon which her fame rests, Angelou's primary concern is with the distillation of experience into immediately accessible language.
She has been at various times in her life a streetcar conductor, Creole cook, madam, prostitute, junkie, singer, actress, and civil-rights activist. She wrote for the theater, the movies, television, and achieved celebrity with the first volume of her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Married and divorced several times, Angelou has lived and worked in Ghana and in Egypt, where she was associate editor of the English language Arab Observer.
SOURCE: “Poetry: Something About Everything,” in Heart of a Woman, Mind of a Writer, and Soul of a Poet: A Critical Analysis of the Writings of Maya Angelou, University Press of America, Inc., 1997, pp. [In the following excerpt, Hagen presents an anatomy of Angelou's poetry and its subject matter.] Of Maya Angelou's six published volumes of poetry, the first four have been collected into one Bantam paperback volume, titled Maya Angelou: Poems (1986). “Maya Angelou's Inaugural Poem.” Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, Vol. Additional coverage of Angelou's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 1; Black Writers, second edition; Contemporary Authors, Vols.
Her early practice was to alternate a prose publication with a poetry volume, and a fifth “collection” follows her fifth autobiography. [In the following essay, Coulthard argues that “On the Pulse of Morning” is a bad poem, sloppy in construction, and hackneyed in content.] Since Maya Angelou delivered her Clinton inaugural poem, she has shot onto the bestseller list, performed in a film titled (ironically enough) “Poetic Justice,” and, if a mind-boggling news snippet is correct, reported 1995 earnings of 4.2 million dollars.