I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This may seem unusual to some of you, but I only knew in the most general terms what this wonderful autobiography was about.

And until five minutes ago I had never read one of Ms Angelou’s poems. (I’ve just read the poem that Ms Angelou used to name this memoir of her childhood https://allpoetry.com/I-Know-Why-The-Caged-Bird-Sings I’m going to review that mistresspiece later)

But I looked at the blurb on my copy – a copy I have had for several years.

I came so close, so close to being able to read this book completely unspoiled.


But this is still a reading experience I will never forget and it will help me understand (as an outsider) American history and politics a little bit better. It will even help me understand the events of this month a bit more.

There are so many pivotal events that helped to make Ms Angelou the amazing person she must have been. The horrifying grooming and then rape of eight year old Marguerite Johnson. (her real name) that lead to still more horrifying events and a white dentist owed the grandmother who raised Angelou a huge favour. He refused, refused to extract two rotten teeth from a child in agony because he didn’t want to put his hands in a n*‘s mouth

That was so confronting and enraging to read. I don’t know how he could live with himself. I sat straight up in my chair with the shock.

Beautifully written, even the bits are ugly and painful to read.

I wanted to read more Angelou & I decided to start with the poem I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

(Which came first, the book or the poem?)

I didn’t find the book angry in most parts – although given Angelou’s life experiences she had a right to be.

But this poem is very angry – as Angelou had a right to be. It is also powerful and emotional and I really loved it.  Also;

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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