The life and times of Maya Angelou

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The Life and Times of a "Phenomenal Woman"

Maya Angelou is one of the greatest poets of all time. Angelou's work reflects her life and times; but no matter the obstacles that she had to overcome, they only made her stronger. As a Black woman growing up in a predominantly White neighborhood, receiving recognition was not always easy. However, through hard work and perseverance, she has surpassed all the other poets of the Modern Era.

Marguerite Johnson came into this world on April 4, 1928 in Saint Louis, Missouri. Johnson adopted the name Maya Angelou while dancing on stage at the Purple Onion cabaret, in her early twenties ("Maya" 1). As a child, Angelou suffered from great pain, agony, and despair. At age seven, Angelou's mother's boyfriend raped her, leaving her pregnant- changing her life forever. Angelou never had a stable home environment. She moved to her grandmother's house in search of a place to relax and take solace from society.

Angelou then realized that this place was no more stable than the ones before. So, she found a place in a car graveyard, where she could live with other homeless children ("Maya" 1). Now, with no role model and a constant change in environment, it became extremely hard for Angelou to mature ("Maya" 2).However, through her keen perception and probing insight into her own character, she began to see the harsh reality of life and developed as a proud, eloquent woman and poet.

Many past poetic masterminds influenced Angelou and helped inspire her to become a poet, some being Langston Hughes, Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakespeare, and Charles Dickens ("Personal" 1). A woman named Elizabeth Flowers, a native of Saint Louis, also greatly influenced Angelou by encouraging her to read often and express herself freely. After Angelou's...