Happy Birthday, Nikki Giovanni!

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Happy birthday to poet and activist Nikki Giovanni!

Born in 1943, in Knoxville, Tennessee, Giovanni grew up in a family of storytellers.  She was especially close to her grandmother, who taught young Giovanni a great appreciation for her African American heritage.  Because of this, the oral storytelling tradition is especially strong in her poetry, which tends toward an everyday colloquial speech that's accessible for both children and adults.  Her first collections came as a response to high-profile assassinations within the Civil Rights Movement, including Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Black Feeling, Black Talk was released in 1967, followed shortly by Black Judgement in 1968.  These quickly established her as a powerful voice among artists of color, expressing the frustrations, fears, and triumphs of  a movement.

In addition to her many volumes of poetry and non-fiction writing, Giovanni has taught at several colleges and universities, and toured widely to speak about her activism and poetry.  She has received numerous awards for her work, including NAACP Image Awards, the Langston Hughes Award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters, the Rosa Parks Women of Courage Award, and more.  She even has the most unusual honor of having a species of bat named after her: Micronycteris giovanniae.

“Writing is ... what I do to justify the air I breathe,” Giovanni explained in Contemporary Authors. “I have been considered a writer who writes from rage and it confuses me. What else do writers write from? A poem has to say something. It has to make some sort of sense; be lyrical; to the point; and still able to be read by whatever reader is kind enough to pick up the book.”

 

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The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998 Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780060724290
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics - February 1st, 2007

Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780688156978
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow - October 29th, 2013

Rosa Cover Image
By Nikki Giovanni, Bryan Collier (Illustrator)
$8.99
ISBN: 9780312376024
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Square Fish - December 26th, 2007

Bicycles: Love Poems Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780061726491
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Harper Perennial - February 2nd, 2010

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780060099534
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Harper Perennial - December 28th, 2010

Blues: For All the Changes: New Poems Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780688156985
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: William Morrow & Company - April 21st, 1999

Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat [With CD] (Poetry Speaks Experience) Cover Image
By Nikki Giovanni, Alicia Vergel De Dios (Illustrator), Damian Ward (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781402210488
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Sourcebooks - October 1st, 2008

Spin a Soft Black Song: Poems for Children Cover Image
By Nikki Giovanni, George Martins (Illustrator)
$8.99
ISBN: 9780374464691
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Square Fish - April 1st, 1987

Ego-Tripping and Other Poems for Young People Cover Image
By Nikki Giovanni, George Ford (Illustrator), Virginia Hamilton (Foreword by)
$10.95
ISBN: 9781556521898
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Chicago Review Press - November 1st, 1993

The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780688140472
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: William Morrow - January 11th, 1996

A Good Cry: What We Learn From Tears and Laughter Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780062399458
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow - October 24th, 2017