Nikki Giovanni: the Princess of Black Poetry

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Jasmine McFall
Professor Norris
English 234
10/23/2011

Nikki Giovanni: The Princess of Black Poetry
Yolanda Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni is one of the world’s most renowned black poets, as well as an author, commentator, writer, and educator. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, raised in Cincinnati, Giovanni has been an involved activist and writer since the early 1960s. After leaving high school in the eleventh grade, she entered the historically black Fisk University where she graduated with a BA in History in 1967. During her time at Fisk, Giovanni became a major activist in the Black Arts Movement, a loose coalition of African American intellectuals who wrote politically and artistically radical poems aimed at raising awareness of black rights and promoting the struggle for racial equality (Fowler). She also became one of the leading poets in the Black Power wing of activists. Also while at Fisk, she led the organizing of the civil rights organization, The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (Ward). After graduation, Giovanni entered graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, and later, Columbia University.

Nikki Giovanni’s literary career spans over four decades and beginning with her first published work in 1968, Black Feeling, Black Talk, which is one of the single most important volumes of modern African American poetry. Other works include: Spin a Soft Black Song (Poems for Children) (1971) and Ego Trippin and Other Poems for Young People (1973). In 1970, Giovanni founded her own publishing company, Niktom Limited (History Makers).

Since 1987, Nikki Giovanni has been the University Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Discussion Questions
Why is Nikki Giovanni such an important person in history?
What has Nikki Giovanni accomplished in her life?
What was The Black Arts Movement and how was it significant in history?

Works Cited
Fowler, Virginia C. "Notes...
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