Poet, author, and professor Nikki Giovanni remains committed to the fight for civil rights and equality. Author of more than two dozen books of poetry and essays.
Date of Interview:
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Charlottesville, VA – University of Virginia
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, raised in Ohio, Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni, Jr., uses her outspoken voice and bold language both in print and in person. Through poetry, books, and commentary, Giovanni continues to demonstrate her determination and commitment to the fight for civil rights and equality.
An activist and educator, Giovanni found her start during her own undergraduate years at Fisk University, where she worked with the school's Writer's Workshop and edited the literary magazine. After receiving her bachelor's degree in history, Giovanni returned to Ohio, where she organized a Black Arts Festival in Cincinnati before beginning graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Work. Later, Giovanni went on to earn a master's in fine arts program at Columbia University. By the time Giovanni graduated from Columbia, her first two privately published books of poetry had begun to attract the attention of critics. As a distinguished woman in academia, Giovanni has since received approximately twenty-five honorary degrees.
Today, Giovanni is the author of more than two dozen books, including volumes of poetry, illustrated children's books, and three collections of essays. Her first two collections of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk and Black Judgement, as well as a book entitled Racism 101, reflect on African American identities and make bold statements about issues of race. Her three most recent volumes of poetry, Love Poems, Blues For All the Changes and Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, were winners of the NAACP Image Award in 1998, 2000, and 2003.
Since 1987, Giovanni has taught writing, literature and black studies at Virginia Tech. Her writing and poetry have reached broad audiences, and many of her works have appeared on the best-seller lists for the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, and recordings of her poetry made her one of five finalists for a Grammy nomination.