Teacher's Guide

Maya Angelou: A Phenomenal Woman

Photograph of Maya Angelou delivering a speech in 2008.
Photo caption

Photograph of Maya Angelou delivering a speech in 2008.

“There is no greater agony
than bearing an untold story inside you.”

—Maya Angelou

Poet. Orator. Actress. Activist. Professor. Writer. Singer. Phenomenal Woman. These and many more superlatives were used to describe the incomparable Maya Angelou. Gone too soon in 2014 at the age of 86, Dr. Angelou’s legacy lives on through the words she used to eloquently, powerfully, and honestly express emotions, capture experiences, and spread hope. Some of Dr. Angelou's works, along with commentary and other classroom ready materials, are provided below. 

Guiding Questions

What is Maya Angelou's legacy?

What does Maya Angelou's poetry teach us about resiliency?

What imagery and figurative language does Maya Angelou use to talk about ideas, themes, and emotions?

The Poet

The resources below provide biographical information—including the PBS American Masters film about Maya Angelou—access to collections of poetry, and multimedia resources to hear and see Dr. Angelou perform her poetry. 



The Poetry

"You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise."

"Still I Rise" (1978)

"Phenomenal Woman" (1978)


"I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals –
I know what the caged bird feels!"

"Caged Bird" (1983)

"His Day is Done" (2013)

"Abundant Hope" (2011)



"A Brave and Startling Truth" (1995)

"On the Pulse of Morning" (1993)

"A Plagued Journey" (1983)

"Woman Work" (1978)

"Harlem Hopscotch" (1971)

"The Mothering Blackness" (1971)