Poet, activist, and educator Nikki Giovanni has captured America’s heart with her fiery, funny, and insightful verse for over thirty years. This event will include a Q&A discussion moderated by Nikkita Oliver.
Hailed by critics as the “Princess of Black Poetry,” Giovanni was an integral part of the Civil Rights era, re-establishing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at Fisk University in 1965, and was heavily involved in the Black Arts Movement of the early 1970’s.
Giovanni is the author of over 30 children’s books and poetry collections, and the winner of seven NAACP Image Awards among many other honors. Her book Gemini was nominated for a 1973 National Book Award, and The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Spoken Word in 2002. Music played a huge role in Giovanni’s childhood and in her work. Her early poetic recordings on wax, including Like a Ripple on a Pond and Truth Is on Its Way, made her a hip-hop icon, and she appeared as a special guest for the Afro Punk Festival in 2016.
Giovanni returns as relevant as ever with a new a poetry collection, A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter, a veritable memoir in verse “recalling the violence that permeated her parents’ marriage and her early life, and how she came to live with the grandparents who she credits with saving her life.” Her new book also explores the good and bad of aging and pays tribute to Giovanni’s most cherished poets, thinkers, and students, including her good friend Maya Angelou.
Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on June 7, 1943, and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. After earning a B.A. from Fisk University in Nashville in 1967, she organized the Black Arts Festival in Cincinnati before entering graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She is currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, where she has taught since 1987.
Nikkita Oliver is a Seattle-based creative, teaching artist, and anti-racist organizer. Nikkita was the Peoples Party candidate for Mayor of the City of Seattle in 2017. She is an attorney and holds a Masters of Education from the University of Washington as of March 2016 where she studied racial disproportionality and disparate impact in school exclusion. Nikkita is a teaching artist and case manager with Creative Justice, an arts based youth diversion program that provides alternatives to incarceration for youth who are court involved. She is the 2015 recipient of the Seattle Office of Civil Rights Artist Human Rights Leader Award, the 2014 Seattle Poetry Slam (SPS) Grand Slam Champion, the 2013, 2014 and 2016 Seattle Poetry Slam Women of the World Poetry Slam representative, a three time Seattle Poetry Slam national team member and coached the Seattle Poetry Slam national slam team twice. She has opened for Cornel West and Chuck D of Public Enemy and performed on The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert.
Visit Nikki Giovanni’s website for a full list of works.