Postage stamp to honour Maya Angelou has another writer’s words

The iconic poet Maya Angelou might well be one of America’s greatest literary figures. But you’ll find someone else’s words – although prolific – on a postage stamp to be unveiled Tuesday by the U.S. Postal Service to honour the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. The stamp features the late Angelou’s picture, her name and the quote: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” That quote actually belongs to Joan Walsh Anglund, an 89-year-old children’s book author. The quote appears on page 15 of Anglund’s book of poems “A Cup of Sun,” published in 1967, reports The Washington Post.

Yes, that’s my quote. … I love [Maya Angelou] and all she’s done, and I also love my own private thinking that also comes to the public because it comes from what I’ve been thinking and how I’ve been feeling.

Joan Walsh Anglund, author

The quote most certainly is reminiscent of one of Angelou’s most famous works, her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and it is widely associated with the poet. Even President Obama used it and attributed it to Angelou. After being informed that Anglund confirmed the quote was hers’, a Postal Service spokesman issued a statement that it would have used another quote – one actually from the poet – instead, had they known in time.

The sentence held great meaning for her and she is publicly identified with its popularity.

Mark Saunders, U.S. Postal Service spokesman