Poetry Friday: Nikki Giovanni

h1 April 20th, 2007 by eisha

{Note: Today’s Poetry Friday round-up is over here at Big A, little a} . . .

VTTrees are never felled . . . in summer . . . Not when the fruit . . .
is yet to be borne . . . Never before the promise . . . is fulfilled . . .
Not when their cooling shade . . . has yet to comfort . . .

…from A Poem on the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
by Nikki Giovanni

Like everyone, I was stunned and horrified by the massacre at Virginia Tech on Monday. Like many, I have a friend who teaches there, and spent part of the day worrying, checking the VT website and the news, back and forth, waiting for them to release names of victims… until he got out of lockdown and answered his email. Thankfully, he did answer, and he is okay.

MotherReader spoke very eloquently about the tragedy on her blog. So did Paul. I don’t think it’s my place to say anything here, and even if I did I wouldn’t know where to begin. It’s sick and it’s sad and it shouldn’t have happened, these things just shouldn’t happen, ever, to anyone.

But I ran across this today on the Poetry Foundation website, and thought it was worth sharing. It’s Nikki Giovanni, who you probably know teaches at VT, speaking at their convocation on Tuesday.

{Addendum to post: We realize that at least one of our regular readers is deaf; we apologize for the lack of text here re Giovanni’s speech. Perhaps the Poetry Foundation or Virginia Tech itself will have the text printed somewhere. If anyone needs us to look for that, we’re happy to do so. Also, a portion of Giovanni’s speech is printed at A Wrung Sponge’s Poetry Friday entry for today. Thanks} . . .

{Addendum #2: Here is the transcript at Virginia Tech’s site; thanks to Marcie at World of Words for the link!} . . .

13 comments to “Poetry Friday: Nikki Giovanni”

  1. Wow, thanks for this Eisha. Poor Paul to have his words misconstrued like that. I like what he has to say — the mainstream media’s coverage of this has been kinda sick, as usual. I finally just turned the t.v. off.

    Ms. Giovanni ROCKED the house there, huh?

  2. Oh and great poem. Haven’t seen it before. Powerful stuff.

  3. I am quoting Giovanni today too. I loved her speech, as I do all her poems. I am wearing orange and maroon and praying for peace, hope and healing today too. We’ve got to come together to go forward.

  4. Thanks for posting the video, Eisha. I saw the speech on CNN, but I’m glad I’ll be able to find it again.

  5. I have the transcript of Giovanni’s speech linked on my blog (marcieaf.blogspot.com). It is on VT’s website.

  6. Thanks, Marcie! Excellent.

  7. Ooh, yeah, thanks, Marcie. I hadn’t thought about that.

  8. Thanks for the nice words about my post and for this poem. I’ll have to listen at home, though, since I’m at work.

    I’ve read articles in the Wash Post, but I’ve avoided all TV reports.

  9. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing this. This must be particularly hard for Nikki Giovanni. I believe she was the first professor to have discovered Cho’s disturbed writings and banned him from her class.

    This is such a sad time.

  10. Eisha,

    Thanks so much for the link to the text of Giovanni’s speech at Virginia Tech. One of my nephews is a student at the school.

  11. Thanks, Eisha. I have relatives going to school thereas well. This has been an incredubly sad week.

  12. Thanks for the link to the text.
    Did you know Giovanni is from Knoxville?

  13. ALI G -Booyakasha, chek i’ out. I is here wif my main man, Nikki G, my bro from Staines. How is you become poet?
    NIKKI G- We’re communicators, it’s in our blood.
    ALI G: Blood, West Side. Now sis, you, I mean, sorry you is my bro now, you is get some edumacation. You went to America, right?
    NIKKI G: I went to Fisk.
    ALI G: Tell me about how you is expelled for crack…
    NIKKI G: It wasn’t for smoking crack. I started at Fisk in 1960, was soon expelled, and later returned and graduated in 1968. I did enroll and quickly drop out of two graduate schools after that but I did complete that one degree, my bachelor’s degree.
    ALI G: Wha’eve. You is still my main man. Now you has Tupac Shukar tattoo, right? Can I see that?
    NIKKI G: Yes, I have said I would rather be with the street thugs than with the ones who complain about them.
    ALI G: Now is you believe Tupac’s criminal record make him a better rap artist?
    NIKKI G: Well, I don’t know about that, but…
    ALI G: I like that poem you wrote about nigger can you kill, can you stab a jew, and you draw blood, can you kill a honkie. Ain’t that a rap!
    NIKKI G: You’re talking about my poem “The True Import Of Present Dialogue, Black vs. Negro.” I wrote that a long time ago.
    ALI G: But can’t you make a rap out of that? You is get the whole crowd to stand up at Virginia Tech with that one.
    NIKKI G: No, that was my new poem We Are Virginia Tech.
    ALI G: Wha’eve. That was my one an’ only main man, Nikki G, my big bro and big time poet, big shout out for Nikki G from VT.

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