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Maya Angelou

'Caged bird's' song of triumph over pain resonates

'Caged bird's' song of triumph over pain resonates

I cannot recall in what grade I was when the teacher put "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" on the required reading list. But I'll never forget how I felt after finishing it. Unsettled. In reading Maya Angelou's first memoir, I felt something of a literary sadist. Sympathetic as I was to every mournful episode of wretched self-hatred, abandonment, doubt and sexual abuse inflicted upon her, I couldn't help but delight in how beautifully she captured such ugliness. She was an alchemist, turning leaden demoralization into lustrous, instructive beauty: If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the...