Edit ModuleShow Tags

Nikki Giovanni: A Living Legend


Published:

Nikki Giovanni

Watch

Giovanni will speak at Point Loma Nazarene University’s Writer’s Symposium by the Sea on February 18.

Nikki Giovanni was a major voice of the Black Arts Movement of the late 1960s, and went on to become one of the most widely read American poets. She has published more than 35 books for adults and children, won seven NAACP Image Awards, was nominated for a Grammy and a National Book Award, and landed a spot as one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 Living Legends—and that’s just an abbreviated résumé. We spoke with the prolific talent about poetry in a tech-driven world, today’s racial issues, and cooking fried fish for Shakespeare.

Public education has recently focused more strongly on science, technology, and math. San Diego itself is a huge biotech hub. Why is it important that students continue to learn and read poetry?

We still use narrative to explain and explore our ideas more than anything. All of us—students, professors, scientists, businessmen and women—still read and write no matter what our profession.

You have written about race your entire career. The past few years have brought race relations back to a prominent place in our national discourse. Has anything changed since you started writing about these issues in the 1960s?

So much has changed. Race is still an issue but in a very different way. I am so proud of my generation and the doors we opened, and I’m also proud that we have enough sense to allow the youngsters to follow their own leaders. We have to keep this train moving; each generation has its own share to do.

What unique role does a poet have in speaking about the big issues that divide us?

Poets have always had important roles to share in public life. Unlike politicians, we tell the truth.

What poets do you like to read?

Gwen Brooks, Margaret Walker, Langston Hughes (especially as Ashley Bryan has illustrated his poems), and I enjoy Toni Morrison and Edwidge Danticat who, while technically not poets, write so beautifully they keep the rest of us honest.

Which writers, from past or present, would you invite to a dinner party?

I have had the pleasure of having dinners with Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. Toni is great because she likes fried porgies. I guess my choice would be Shakespeare, because I love the way he never flinched when writing. I would hope Will likes fried fish, but if not I’m sure we could settle on rack of lamb.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Letter from the Editor: All About That (Sea) Bass

Editor in Chief Erin Meanley Glenny dishes on the June issue of San Diego Magazine

Meet the Players of San Diego's New Rugby Team

7 Legion players on their favorite things about San Diego, and why rugby is better than football

Tony Winner Audra McDonald Heads to San Diego

The Beauty and the Beast and Private Practice actress takes the stage at Copley Symphony Hall
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Vote Now for San Diego's Best Restaurants 2018
    From burritos to bottomless mimosas, you choose San Diego’s best eats and drinks in 90 categories
  2. Personal Stories are on Display at the Museum of Man's 'PostSecret'
    Frank Warren collects deep, dark secrets for this community arts project
  3. The Best Burgers in San Diego
    These burgers are food critic Troy Johnson's finalists for the best in San Diego
  4. The Best of North County 2018
    Our annual list of what we’re loving above the 56, from bites and brews to shopping, wellness, and arts and kids’ activities galore
  5. 31 Best Places to Live in San Diego
    Five local homeowners share their advice, tips, and tricks on how they sealed the deal
  6. Has Anything Really Changed Since Ballast Point Sold to Constellation?
    More than two years after the acquisition, misinformation and misunderstanding still abound
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags