Before reading A Song Flung Up to Heaven, I had only read the beloved I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This was after I had found her poetry online, seen her in movies and watched her beautiful poetry videos. I read this right after watching her Netflix documentary, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise three times. Yes, three times. This book is the sixth in her autobiography series.
A Song Flung Up to Heaven begins with Dr Angelou returning to the States from Ghana, where she is leaving her son behind, and a husband she is separated from. She’s returning to work with Malcolm X at his foundation, the OAAU, but not long after her return and before she’s even had the opportunity to meet up with him, Malcolm is killed. Dr Maya shares her pain and grief, and the disappointment she had at people for their inaction.
She takes us from San Francisco after hearing the news, to Hawaii where she realises that singing for convenience does not help. She then leads us back to LA where we see how the American system seeps into the lives of black folks. As her story progresses we discover how her writing journey unfolds and we meet all the incredible people who helped her along the way, such as James Baldwin. Another tragedy finds her when just as she prepares to move to New York to go work with Martin Luther King, she receives the news that he has been killed.
It’s Dr Angelou’s openness and honesty about her life that makes for such as wonderful read. I love her stories because of how they leave me when I’m done. She was a black woman, who had so many obstacles, tribulations, grief, and disappointments but she chose to confront the world with a different attitude. It’s inspiring. Her story also lets us in on the American people and what they went through, but not in a depressing fashion. Her intelligence and exuberant personality shine through in this account of her life. It’s incredible. It ends with her starting the first sentence of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Perfect!
Title: A Song Flung Up to Heaven
Author: Maya Angelou
Published: 2002, Random House