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Maya Angelou - Essay Example

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The so called ‘literary canon’ is an ever-evolving catalogue of the most important, prestigious and talented authors who have ever written in the English language, and to have one of your works described as ‘canonical’ is probably one of the best praises a writer could ever receive. …
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Maya Angelou
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Download file to see previous pages Any number of factors could lead to a writer’s work being included in the canon, including ingenuity and creativity, artistic merit, cultural importance, historical importance, public popularity, or some mixture of the above traits. Though it is impossible to identify exactly what leads to a writer being worthy of inclusion into the literary canon, it is sometimes completely obvious that a writer is deserving of the honor. This is certainly the case for Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou was born in 1928 and raised in Arkansas, and first became well known for her autobiography, I Know why the Caged Bird Sings, written in 1969 (Maya Angelou – Official Site). Though she has many individual achievements that probably would have made her worthy for her inclusion in the literary canon, it is the breadth of achievements across the course of her career that make her inclusion so obvious and uncontroversial. Soon after publishing her first autobiography, Angelou went on to publish a book of poetry in 1971, followed by appearances on stage and in television, as well as writings in children’s literature, books of essays, plays, and more autobiographies. Maya warrants inclusion in the literary canon because of her literary accomplishments in a wide array of literary fields, her singular artistic achievement and her historical importance both to the civil rights movement and as a representative of the literature of that movement. One of the primary reasons Maya Angelou must be included in the English literary canon is the simple fact that she had a significant impact on her society through her prolific and high-profile writing. Even without considering critical recognition, the sheer volume of Angelou’s works is astounding. To this point, she has published no less than seven autobiographies, seventeen books of poetry, six children’s books, and almost a dozen plays, in addition to the incredible amounts of writing she has done for film and television (Maya Angelou – Official Site). In addition to this she has performed frequently as an actress on stage and in film, directed several films and acted as a recording artist for the scores of many of the plays she has performed in (Maya Angelou – Official Site). This volume of work in and of itself is an argument for Angelou’s inclusion in the literary canon. It is simply impossible to be such a prolific and published author/screenwriter etc. without having a great impact on the society in which you live. Furthermore, Maya Angelou also frequently got her work into the public imagination through a number of high-profile displays, the most important of which was probably her reading her own poem during Bill Clinton’s Inaugural address in 1993 (Hagen, 93). Maya Angelou’s prolific, high-profile writing, indicates that she has had a significant impact on her society, which is a major part of the reasons Maya Angelou should be included in the literary canon of English literature. While Maya Angelou’s prolific writing is certainly impressive, , it is also important to note that her writing was not just prolific, but also extremely well esteemed, as documented especially by the incredible number of awards she has won for her work. The first major recognition she received was the National Book Award for her first book ever published the autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which she almost won in 1970. Probably her most commonly known recognition is her nomination for a Pulitzer Prize, one of the highest prizes in literature for her first book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie, published in 1971 (Hagen, 8). Other important awards she has won for her writing include the Langston Hughes Metal, given to her in 1991 in recognition of her primacy ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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