"The Trouble I've Seen: Erma Motton" from American Dreams: Lost and Found by Studs Terkel

Prepared by Dr. Loretta Kasper

Like Erma Motton, the poet Maya Angelou started with a difficult life. Yet she rose above her circumstances and through her writing, she encouraged others in similar circumstances.

  1. Go to our Search Resources page to find information on the life of Maya Angelou.
  2. Make a list of the major events and accomplishments in Angelou's life.
  3. Read and comment on one of Angelou's poems that you find on the Internet. A good site for her poetry may be found at
    • Why did you choose this particular poem?
    • What impressed you most about the poem that you chose?
    • What do you think Angelou's message to the reader is?
    • Do you think that the poem accurately conveys Angelou's message? What techniques are most effective in doing this?

  4. Now, write an essay in which you describe the process Maya Angelou followed in achieving her American Dream. In what way(s) is Angelou's experience similar to and/or different from Motton's? Which of these women do you most admire? Why?

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Web page created by Dr. Loretta Kasper
Professor of English

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April 19, 2004

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