U.S. Consulate General Chennai Launches American Poet Maya Angelou’s Books in Tamil

Bookended by Black History Month and Women’s History Month, U.S. Consulate General Chennai released the world’s first authorized Tamil-language version of two books by celebrated American author, poet, memoirist, actor, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

In 2010, former U.S. President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor – to Dr. Angelou for her lifelong advocacy for inclusivity, women’s empowerment, and human rights.

The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai coordinated with publishing house Kalachuvadu to release two of Dr. Angelou’s most important literary works in Tamil.

Her 1969 landmark memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was the first non-fiction bestseller by an African American woman.

And Still I Rise is a collection of 32 poems, including the famous “Still I Rise” and “Phenomenal Woman.” The book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was translated by Bernard Chandra, while R. Sivakumar translated And Still I Rise.

During a ceremony at the American Center auditorium on March 15, U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asia Office of Press and Public Diplomacy Deputy Director Anne Seshadri said, “This is the result of years of hard work by the U.S Consulate General Chennai’s Public Diplomacy section in collaboration with the publishers. Although Maya Angelou’s works have been translated into multiple languages, there was no authorized translation of her works in Tamil. We hope her message of tolerance, justice, and equality will resonate with Tamil-speaking audiences in South India and around the world.”

Former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi and writer-activist Salma were the chief guests at the event. U.S. Embassy New Delhi Minister-Counselor for Public Diplomacy Gloria Berbena, U.S. Consulate General Chennai’s Public Engagement Officer Scott Hartmann, U.S. Consulate General Chennai’s Spokesperson Samantha Jackson, and Kannan Sundaram, Publisher, Kalachuvadu Publications participated in the event.

The translated books will be available for patrons to borrow from the Chennai’s American Center.