Treasure Island

Nikki Giovanni

(June 7, 1943 / Knoxville, Tennessee)

Nikki Giovanni
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an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Her primary focus is on the individual and the power one has to make a difference in oneself and in the lives of others. Giovanni’s poetry expresses strong racial pride, respect for family, and her own experiences as a daughter, a civil rights activist, and a mother. She is currently a distinguished professor of English at Virginia Tech.

Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee to Yolande Cornelia, Sr. and Jones "Gus" Giovanni. She grew up in Lincoln Heights, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, and in 1960 began her studies at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, her grandfather's alma mater. She graduated in 1967... more »

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Quotations

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  • ''There're two people in the world that are not likeable: a master and a slave.''
    Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943), U.S. poet. conversation in London, Nov. 4, 1971, with James Baldwin. A Dialogue (1973).
  • ''If you don't understand yourself you don't understand anybody else.''
    Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943), U.S. poet. A Dialogue (1973). from a conversation, Nov. 4, 1971, with James Baldwin in London.
  • ''White people really deal more with God and black people with Jesus.''
    Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943), U.S. poet. A Dialogue (1973). from a conversation with James Baldwin, London (Nov. 4, 1971).
  • ''There're two people in the world that are not likeable: a master and a slave.''
    Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943), U.S. poet, and James Baldwin (1924-1987), U.S. author. A Dialogue (1973). from a conversation in London, Nov. 4, 1971.
  • ''A white face goes with a white mind. Occasionally a black face goes with a white mind. Very seldom a white face will have a black mind.''
    Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943), U.S. poet. from a conversation with James Baldwin, in London, Nov. 4, 1971. A Dialogue (1973).
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Comments about Nikki Giovanni

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  • Bobbie Peppers (4/22/2014 8:26:00 AM)

    I like this poem because of it shows passion and future of love. You say that you love someone but then again you know for a fact that it's true for love of the peace and show respect.......or you not fortution.

  • Caroline Bulleck (7/25/2012 6:06:00 PM)

    Has anyone ever read Poetry by Nikki Giovanni? If not, here it is:
    Poetry is motion graceful
    as a fawn
    gentle as a teardrop
    strong like the eye
    finding peace in a crowded room
    we poets tend to think
    our words are golden
    though emotion speaks too
    loudly to be defined
    by silence
    sometimes after midnight or just before
    the dawn
    we sit typewriter in hand
    pulling loneliness around us
    forgetting our lovers or children
    who are sleeping
    ignoring the weary wariness
    of our own logic
    to compose a poem
    no one understands it
    it never says love me for poets are
    beyond love
    it never says accept me for poems seek not
    acceptance but controversy
    it only says i am and therefore
    i concede that you are too
    a poem is pure energy
    horizontally contained
    between the mind
    of the poet and the ear of the reader
    if it does not sing discard the ear
    for poetry is song
    if it does not delight discard
    the heart for poetry is joy
    if it does not inform then close
    off the brain for it is dead
    if it cannot heed the insistent message
    that life is precious
    which is all we poets
    wrapped in our loneliness
    are trying to say

  • Christi Sloma (4/22/2007 11:48:00 PM)

    What a wonderful, uplifting speech she gave at the convocation memorial service at Va Taech the day after the shootings there.
    She raised the spirits of both the students and the staff along with those of the world.
    She gave hope to the hopeless of the world and raised every single person involved with Va Tech to the highest of all highs.
    Va Tech is indeed lucky to have her as one of their professors.
    I hope and pray that they all recover from this horrible tragedy and with staff like her, the students will prevail!
    Go Hokies! Go Hokies!

  • Mary Keckler (4/21/2007 1:48:00 AM)

    Wow. Congratulations A. MacDonald you are now the poster boy/girl for the 'it is not my fault club'. He was 23, he had a brain, he was an adult. Everyone did what they could for him. Many people have horrendous childhoods, have many bad things that happen (and that they imagine happen) to them - some of them commit suicide - very few of them take people with them. How about we just balme it on him and quit dragging well meaning folks who did all they could through the mud?

  • Kristine Gartner (4/20/2007 5:16:00 PM)

    As to the person who stated that all professionals had not helped this gentlemen. It is now the job of teachers to also stop the hate in people? It is he, himself, who failed the world. He is responsible for decisions and in the eyes of most of us, is a coward.

  • K Baxter (4/19/2007 12:18:00 AM)

    are you joking? youre ridiculous. did you miss the part where people tried to talk to him and tried to help him, but he barely even spoke a word to them, even when he was spoken to? did you miss the part where he was referred to counseling, to police, to administration? giovanni is an intelligent, caring, warm hearted individual. what would you have liked her to say? ''i ache for this this poor, poor child...'' this child failed HIMSELF and while he was at it, he took 32 innocent people with him. 'boys reaching out for help' dont laugh maniacally while they shoot fellow college students execution style with automatic weapons. they do not send numerous disturbing photos and videos of themselves with weapons and angry faces, discussing how their proceeding act of murder is 'not their fault at all' but the fault of everyone else, 'they chose it, they deserve it. theyll get whats coming to them.' this wasnt a young man reaching out for help, this was a very disturbed, vicious, and immature little boy who wanted to 'get even' with 'rich kids' that he hated for no reason. was he troubled? obviously, YES! this is not an excuse for his horrifying actions and it is NO reason for professors and faculty members to feel sorry for him or feel guilty. he ripped apart a university family. he ruined lives, families, relationships... i have NO pity for this cold blooded murderer. i feel a very deep sorrow for the innocent people that he took with him in his suicide mission and i feel sorry for the family that he embarrassed.

  • A Macdonald (4/18/2007 9:03:00 PM)

    Nikki Giovanni's comments concerning the Vtech shootings should put her out of work. Her lack of maturity, sensitivity or humanity should prove to warrant some disciplinary action. Ms. Giovanni, this is a boy who was literally crying out for help on so many occasions. Every 'professional' who had dealings with this young man has FAILED him including YOU.

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