Top 10 Works of Maya Angelou

Here's a list of the literary icon's best work and must-reads in poetry and autobiographical books

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All over the world people are mourning the death of a literary icon, Dr. Maya Angelou. During her lifetime, the prolific author and poet published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry. Her series of seven autobiographies chronicles her childhood and early adult experiences. She is also credited with writing a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 30 honorary doctoral degrees. Here are 10 of her most popular works and must-reads from BlackEnterprise.com:

1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

This is the first book of five chronicles of the author’s autobiographical narratives. It begins with her childhood and follows her into young womanhood. This book has, since its publication, become a beloved contemporary classic of African American literature.

2. On the Pulse of Morning

This poem was written for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. After its reading it quickly became a bestseller.

3. The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou

This book contains all of Maya Angelou’s published poetry: Just Give Me A Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie (1971); Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975); And Still I Rise (1978); Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? (1983); I Shall Not Be Moved (1990); and the 1993 inaugural poem On the Pulse of Morning.

4. And Still I Rise

The author’s third volume of poetry published in 1978. It is made up of 32 short poems, including two of her most well-known and popular pieces, “Phenomenal Woman” and “Still I Rise.”

5. The Heart of a Woman

Millions have read this national best-seller and Oprah Book Club selection. Angelou exposes a turbulent period of her life as she struggles to raise a child, fulfill her goals as a writer, and fight for civil rights in an age of social injustice.

6. All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

This book is an effective continuation of Angelou’s monumental, multi-volume autobiographical narrative. This installment begins in the early 1960s, with Angelou and her son living in Africa.

7. Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

This is the first published book of essays. It consists of a series of short essays, often autobiographical, along with two poems, and has been called one of Angelou’s “wisdom books.”

8. Gather Together in My Name

This is the second book in Angelou’s series of autobiographies that follows her teen years as she gives birth to a son, falls in love, falls out of love, chases after her kidnapped baby, and goes to work in a house of prostitution.

9. Even the Stars Look Lonesome

This is Angelou’s second book of essays, published during a period between her fifth and sixth autobiographies. She re-creates intimate personal experiences and shares her wisdom on a wide variety of subjects. She also talks about Africa and gives a profile of Oprah.

10. Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

A unique book for ages 4-8 that combines the words of a renowned African American poet laureate and the primitive, modern paintings of a young Haitian-American artist. It teaches people of any age to have confidence in themselves.

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