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 ... more »

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Quotations

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  • ''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.
  • ''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).
  • ''I think one of the nicest things that we created as a generation was just the fact that we could say, Hey, I don't like white people.''
    Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943), U.S. poet. from a conversation with James Baldwin in London, Nov. 4, 1971. A Dialogue (1973).
  • ''A lot of people refuse to do things because they don't want to go naked, don't want to go without guarantee. But that's what's got to happen. You go naked until you die.''
    Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943), U.S. poet. Black Women Writers at Work, ch. 5, by Claudia Tate (1983).
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Comments about Nikki Giovanni

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  • Eddie Chambers (7/19/2018 2:37:00 AM)

    Does anyone know the very first time that Nikki Giovanni's poem Charles White appeared in print?

  • Irene Speed (6/4/2018 9:03:00 AM)

    I am looking for a copy of the Eagles poem by Nikki Giovanni. Please email me at ijspeed@gvtc.com
    Thanks so much,
    Irene Speed

  • wwwwwww (5/22/2018 12:10:00 PM)

    gay rights gay rights gay rights gay rights

  • Lila MacFawn (5/14/2018 6:41:00 PM)

    I am Nikki for my school wax museum

  • Asiah Brewster (3/20/2018 10:43:00 AM)

    In my wv history I have to research you along with some other people. One poem that makes me want to read more of them is A Summer Love Poem. it makes me wonder if what i do is right or wrong. if who i love is just a friendship that i know may know may not last but want it to. and if i should rethink what i have done before.

  • Amaria (2/17/2018 8:10:00 PM)

    Wowwwwwww

  • amazingggggggggggggg (2/14/2018 3:43:00 PM)

    fgbbbbbbbbbbbbb bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb

  • miracle hope booth (1/31/2018 4:46:00 PM)

    miracle hope booth sorry dddddddddddddddddddddddddddd

  • miracle (1/31/2018 4:45:00 PM)

    i now know you nikki giovanni

  • madison miksil (1/24/2018 8:47:00 AM)

    i hate u world lol i am just playing with u guys i love nikki giovanni

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Best Poem of Nikki Giovanni

Choices

If i can't do
what i want to do
then my job is to not
do what i don't want
to do
It's not the same thing
but it's the best i can
do

If i can't have
what i want... then
my job is to want
what i've got
and be satisfied
that at least there
is something more to want

Since i can't go
where i need
to go... then i must... go
where the signs point
though always understanding
parallel movement
isn't lateral

When i can't express
what i really feel
i practice feeling
what i can express
and none ...

Read the full of Choices
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