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Titled after a stanza from Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy,” I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first of a series of seven autobiographical novels by African-American poet and writer Maya Angelou. Personally deeply involved and affected by the civil rights movement, the volume explores racism and identity in her early life. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was nominated for the National Book Award in 1970. However, due to its depiction of controversial subjects such as sexuality, lesbianism and rape, the use of the novel in classrooms has been frequently challenged.
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