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When did it become fashionable for poets to lend their talents to major corporations? First, Sonia Sanchez agrees to spit voice-over verse in commercials for Chrysler, and then Maya Angelou, a true national treasure, decides to use her immeasurable gifts by composing mini-poems to be placed on picture frames, journals, and greeting cards for Hallmark. Are these dynamic women strapped for cash? Perhaps this commercialization is an effort to bring poetry to a larger audience, to more effectively reach the masses. But can seeing phrases such as “Nobody can ever take a friend’s place—nobody” printed on a coffee mug compare to the experience of reading “Phenomenal Woman”? Given her fans’ disillusionment, the release of Angelou’s A Song Flung Up to Heaven is extremely timely. The book, Angelou’s sixth and final autobiography, takes us back to her more radical days; as the novel opens she is returning from Africa to work with Malcolm X. In it, Angelou details important moments in American history—such as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Watts riots—and captures what it was like to witness such pivotal moments firsthand. The writer, performer, teacher, director, and inaugural poet has traveled the world and rubbed elbows with some of the most important figures of our time—not bad for a girl who was raised in Stamps, Ark. At least the next time you walk into KIM’s Hallmark and pick up a set of wind chimes that say, “Life is pure adventure,” you’ll know that the sentiment is heartfelt. Find out why the caged bird sings to corporate America at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, at Vertigo Books, 7346 Baltimore Ave., College Park. Free. (301) 779-9300. (Sarah Godfrey)