How can I write an essay on Maya Angelou in MLA format?

Expert Answers
jerseygyrl1983 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Maya Angelou was a very prolific writer who also did many things outside of literature. She started her public career as a dancer, then became a Calypso singer. She acted on stage, notably in Jean Genet's "The Blacks," and she was a Civil Rights activist who developed friendships with Malcolm X and James Baldwin.

If you are interested in writing an essay about her adult life, her memoirs are rich places to start. She writes about her singing career in Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas. She writes about her life during the Civil Rights Movement and her personal experience of the 1966 Watts riot / uprising in A Song Flung Up to Heaven. Most notably, she writes about her childhood, particularly her self-imposed silence after being raped, in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It would be useful to examine Angelou's use of figurative language and how she weaved life lessons into her narration.

It is also possible to examine Angelou's poetry. One possible topic would be how Angelou's poetry fits into the Black Arts Movement of which she was a part. 

When using the MLA (Modern Language Association) format, remember to cite sources that are directly quoted, –– both entire quotes and portions of quotes –– as well as sources that are paraphrased, which would be cited within parentheses at the end of the paraphrased sentence. If citing a page number in a book of prose or non-fiction writing, the citation would look as follows: (Angelou 122). If quoting lines of poetry, you would cite them in the following way in text: (l. 4-6). Please also be sure to include a works cited page, which should list your sources –– both direct and secondary –– alphabetically.