A Song Flung up to Heaven

A Song Flung up to Heaven

Book - 2002
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Baker & Taylor
In a sixth memoir, the author and poet describes her return from Africa to the U.S., her work with the civil rights movement, and the writing of her first autobiographical work, "I know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

Blackwell North Amer
The culmination of a unique achievement in modern American literature: the six volumes of autobiography that began more than thirty years ago with the appearance of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven opens as Maya Angelou returns from Africa to the United States to work with Malcolm X. But first she has to journey to California to be reunited with her mother and brother. No sooner does she arrive there than she learns that Malcolm X has been assassinated.

Devastated, she tries to put her life back together, working on the stage in local theaters and even conducting a door-to-door survey in Watts. Then Watts explodes in violence, a riot she describes firsthand.

Subsequently, on a trip to New York, she meets Martin Luther King, Jr., who asks her to become his coordinator in the North, and she visits black churches all over America to help support King’s Poor People’s March.

But once again tragedy strikes. King is assassinated, and this time Angelou completely withdraws from the world, unable to deal with this horrible event. Finally, James Baldwin forces her out of isolation and insists that she accompany him to a dinner party—where the idea for writing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is born. In fact, A Song Flung Up to Heaven ends as Maya Angelou begins to write the first sentences of Caged Bird.

& Taylor

Documents the author's life between the assassination of Malcolm X to her decision to write, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, discussing her witness to the Watts riot, her work with Martin Luther King, Jr., her relationship with James Baldwin, and more.

Publisher: New York : Random House, c2002
ISBN: 9780375507472
Branch Call Number: 818.5409 Ang
Characteristics: 212 p


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Sep 30, 2019

Maya Angelou is such a great story teller. Her life’s journey really calls for an amazing book. The struggles and pain she faced and yet managed to overcome all those hurdles.

Apr 08, 2017

Well, I started in the middle rather than starting at the beginning and with this volume I am hearing the same stories again. I need to go back to the beginning and read IKWTCBS. I was always impressed with Ms. Angelou's presence and would like to revere her as an author.

thart Oct 19, 2011

(Read 6/2009). This is the final book in her autobiographical series (6 of 6) that begins with "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." This book begins where number five left off: she returns home to the US after living in Africa for several years. A very brief recap that is basically the same as the end of "All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes" begins this work.

A great deal of this book is Maya beset by tragedy and learning from it, something we all do or should do, as these unpleasant events in our lives occur. The initial reason for her return to the US was to work with Malcolm X, who is assassinated almost immediately upon her return. She learns this devastating news while visiting her mother and brother in California. After there only a short time, the now famous Watt's riots break out, she visits the scene first-hand, and gives some poignant observations.

In typical fashion, Maya learns what she can from these events and moves on with her existence. She is once again asked to take part in the Civil Rights movement by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the SCLC, by visiting churches around the US which, she agrees to do but, not until her birthday on April 4th, 1968. For those of you who do not remember your history, this is the date when MLK was assassinated. So now Maya must try to strive forth with the death of two friends on her conscious. The deaths of two great leaders is ultimately too much for Maya to bear. She withdraws from people and isolates herself to recover however she can.

Maya takes all of these experiences and finds a way not only to cope with them but, also to examine them and learn from them. These events, although tragic, are ultimately what finally leads her into becoming a writer and poet, permanently. The book ends with her "new beginning" and the initial creation of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

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