Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Poetry's Audience Today

BOND: What do you think about this explosion of audiences have for poetry now? They have these poetry jams or slams or whatever they're called -- a TV show about them, a tour of these poets, even a tour of England, I understand, going on right now -- was there anything comparable for you when you were the age of some of these young people?

GIOVANNI: Oh no. Unfortunately -- I love to hear Hip Hop Nation because one, they're good. Their craft is good. But they're also better business people than we are. So, you see, if you throw the hip hop nation up, a whole bunch of young millionaires come down. I am so happy for them. I'm so proud of them. I think it's good. I love a slam. I just hosted a slam in Roanoke. We had about three hundred people out at five dollars a head to come in. The winner makes $1,500 or something like that. I think that's wonderful. It's a part of my volunteer work for my community, and I enjoy it because, you know, everybody gets a kick out of it.

Of course Russell Simmons did a def jam on Broadway. And of course ,HBO was doing it. I hope HBO -- with Stan Lathan, Stan's a brilliant young director. I hope that they continue to do that because the bottom line of the human experience is poetry. When we want to compliment anything, it's "poetry in motion." If you want to compliment a wine, "This is pure poetry in a bottle." If you want to compliment anything, it comes back to poetry. So I think it's -- I think it's good. I like the varied audiences. We were talking about Queen Latifah, but she started with the hip hop -- she started doing that. She took that to movies, which I think is really wonderful. Will Smith took that. And it's become a door, and a lot of people are going through it.