Maya Angelou – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Mom & Me & Mom

Episode 2 – December 8, 2019

The podcast is found on – Anchor, Apple Podcast, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, & Spotify

Featured Writer Reviewers:

  • Kristen Kindoll – Host & Moderator
  • Kelly Brown – Kelly Brown loves to write, read and listen to podcasts. She is a mom to two adult sons and a retired law enforcement officer who is excited about having more time to explore life’s possibilities.
  • Keisha Card – Keisha is a writer, nurse, winemaker, and software developer in Nashville, Tennessee.

About – Maya Angelou was born into a situation that presented many obstacles: poverty, discrimination, and a fractured family. Despite these odds, Maya rose above her circumstances and created a storied existence. She began chronicling her life with her first autobiography, I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings in 1969. Maya never slowed down with her writing or living life to the fullest. Mom & Me & Mom was published while she was 85 and ended up being her last book before her death in 2014.

How did Maya Angelou’s writing change from her first book to the last one? What were the missing pieces that she still needed to tell? What can fellow writers learn from chronically our lives?


  • Maya Angelou –
    • “Wouldn’t they be surprised when one day I woke out of my black ugly dream, and my real hair, which was long and blond, would take the place of the kinky mass that Momma wouldn’t let me straighten? ”
  • Vivian Baxter –
    • “I followed the voice and I knew she had made a mistake, but the pretty little woman with red lips and high heels came running to my grandmother.”
  • Bailey Johnson –
    • “For a while I was the only recipient of Bailey’s kindness. It was not that he pitied me but that he felt we were in the same boat for different reasons, and that I could understand his frustration just as he could countenance my withdrawal.”
  • Momma –
    • “I didn’t ask you to apologize in front of Marguerite, because I don’t want her to know my power, but I order you, now and herewith. Leave Stamps by sundown.”


  1. Let’s begin with the beginning… why did Maya use the following as openings to her books?
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings –
    • “What you looking at me for? I didn’t come to stay…
    • I hadn’t so much forgot as I couldn’t bring myself to remember. Other things were more important.
    • “What you looking at me for?
    • I didn’t come to stay…
    • Whether I could remember the rest of the poem or not was immaterial. The truth of the statement was like a wadded-up handkerchief, sopping wet in my fists, and the sooner they accepted it he quicker I could let me hands open and the air would cool my palms.”
  • Mom & Me & Mom –
    • “The first decade of the twentieth century was not a great time to be born black and poor and female in St. Louis, Missouri, but Vivian Baxter was born black and poor, to black and poor parents. Later she would grow up and be called beautiful. As a grown woman she would be known as the butter-colored lady with the blowback hair.”


  1. Vivian Baxter was charming, elusive, strong, and “irresistible”? Would you agree with these descriptions, and do you think she was a good mother?
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings –
    • “We were served formally, and she apologized for having no orchestra to play for us but she said she’d sing as a substitute. She sang and did the Time Step and the Snake Hips and the Suzy Q. What child can resist a mother who laughs freely and often, especially if the child’s wit is mature enough to catch the sense of the joke?”
  • Mom & Me & Mom –
    • “I will look after you and I will look after anybody you say needs to be looked after, any way you say, I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.”


  1. The non-fiction process is based on fact; how does a writer navigate the facts without twisting the details in retelling?
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings –
    • “I figger, he gonna be that kind of nasty, he gonna have to pay for it.
    • Momma and her son laughed and laughed over the white man’s evilness and her retribution sin.
    • I preferred, much preferred, my version.”
  • Mom & Me & Mom –
    • “It is a story indelibly seared into my mind, and I’ve told part of it before…
    • I must depend on hearsay for the events of the next few hours.”


  1. How was Maya able to overcome resentment of her experiences when many of us may not have been able to in the same circumstances?
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings –
    • “I was at home, again. And my mother was a fine lady. Dolores was a fool and, more important, a liar.”
  • Mom & Me & Mom –
    • “I was aware after the birth of my son and the decision to move and get a place for just the two of us, I thought of Vivian Baxter as my mother. On the odd occasion and out of habit, sometimes I called her Lady, but her treatment of me and her love for my baby earned her the right to be called Mother.”


  1. Bailey was everything to Maya in her first book. Yet, in Maya’s last book, Bailey is hardly mentioned. Did Bailey’s later struggles with drugs affect his place as Maya’s sole confidant?
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings –
    • “At some point he noticed me still in the doorway, and his consciousness stretched to remember our relationship. “Maya, if you want to leave now, come on. I’ll take care of you.”
  • Mom & Me & Mom –
    • “Bailey stared straight at her.
    • We are leaving your house. Nobody, but nobody, beats up my baby sister.
    • Bailey took my hand.”


  1. How does Mom & Me & Mom compare to the poetic style of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings –
    • “The lamplight in the Store gave a soft make-believe feeling to our world which made me want to whisper and walk about on tiptoe. The odors of onions and oranges and kerosene had been mixing all night and wouldn’t be disturbed until the wooded slat was removed from the door and the early morning air forced its way in with the bodies of people who had walked miles to reach the pickup place.”
  • Mom & Me & Mom –
    • “I looked at my mother’s lifeless form and thought about her passion and wit. I knew she deserved a daughter who loved her and had a good memory, and she got one.”

Listen to the whole podcast to learn the featured writers’ responses and whether they would recommend these books as companion reads.

podcast link –—Maya-Angelou-I-Know-Why-the-Caged-Bird-Sings-and-Mom–Me–Mom-e9dim4