Don’t take it from me, take it from the Washington Post:
A number of luminaries are expected at Tuesday morning’s unveiling ceremony for the new stamp honoring the late author Maya Angelou, among them first lady Michelle Obama. An 89-year-old children’s book author named Joan Walsh Anglund won’t be there. But her words will be: The quote on the stamp originated with Anglund.
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song,” the Angelou “Forever” stamp reads.
“Yes, that’s my quote,” Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems “A Cup of Sun,” published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from “he” in Anglund’s original to “it” on the stamp. A Postal Service spokesman, Mark Saunders, initially said he had never heard of the Anglund quote until The Washington Post informed him of it. In response, he sent a link to a 2013 blog post interview that quoted Angelou saying the phrase. In a later statement, he also said “numerous references” attributed the the quote to her as well.
How about that. This isn’t the first time the late poet has been accused of “borrowing” somebody’s else work.
But Monday night, after being told that Anglund confirmed the quote as hers, Saunders wrote in an e-mail, “Had we known about this issue beforehand, we would have used one of [Angelou’s] many other works. . . . The sentence held great meaning for her and she is publicly identified with its popularity.”
Emily Anglund, Anglund’s granddaughter, said she had no idea that the quote has been attributed to Angelou for several years, or that it is featured on her forever stamp. “We didn’t realize it until you brought it to our attention now. Wow,” Emily Anglund said. Last year, in remarks at the presentation of the 2013 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal, President Obama attributed the quote to Angelou.
Of course he did. After all, he attributed Dreams From My Father to himself, didn’t he?