Several years ago, Nikki Giovanni was in Charlotte for a reading and I was on the volunteer committee for the event. I will never forget i ended up getting assigned to police the Green room where Nikki Giovanni and the other writers. Instead of providing “security” i actually when in the room and talked to her for about 45 minutes, we talked about writing, being a writer in the south, Virginia and Slam….(I will save her thoughts on slam for another post)
At the end of the chat she told me if I ever wanted to pursue my MFA and I wanted to attend VA Tech she would write my recommendation letter!!
This was me!!
Nikki Giovanni was the first poet that I read when I was younger that taught me what poetry could be, she was the only poet in my grade school curriculum that was not Walt Whitman or Henry David Thoreau.
Then when I found out that she had Thug Life tattooed across her stomach, she has been one of my favorite poets on this planet. One of the things I love most about Nikki is she gives zero fucks when it comes to saying whats on her mind. She is raw and unapologetic, she does not speak politically correct she just says whats on her mind.
An American icon and an Oprah “Living Legend” Nikki Giovanni’s poetry has spurred movements and inspired songs, turned hearts and informed generations. Frequently anthologized, Giovanni’s poetry expresses strong racial pride and respect for family. Her informal style makes her work accessible to both adults and children. “I come from a long line of storytellers,” said Giovanni in an interview who said she gained her appreciation for her African-American heritage from her outspoken grandmother. Her early exposure to the power of spoken language has influenced Giovanni’s career as a poet, particularly in her propensity towards colloquial speech.
Giovanni is the author of 27 books and the recipient of seemingly countless honors and awards including a Grammy nominee for The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection. Several magazines have named her Woman of the Year, including Essence, Mademoiselle, Ebony, and Ladies Home Journal.
In addition to collections such as Re: Creation (1970), Love Poems (1997), and The Collected Poems of Nikki Giovanni (2003), Giovanni has published several works of nonfiction, children’s literature and recordings.
Her new collection Chasing Utopia: The Hybrid is her first in four years.
Between 1970 and 2003, she received nearly one hundred awards and honors, as well as nineteen honorary degrees. She has been given keys to more than a dozen cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, and New Orleans. Since 1987, she has been on the faculty at Virginia Tech, where she is a University Distinguished Professor.
In the below video (its long) She talks about her friendships with Rosa Parks, Toni Morrison, etc. She talks about loosing her mother and why she wrote the book Chasing Utopia. Check out the talk below!