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

‘The Hour of Great Mercy’ Faces Mortality with Dignity

Every scene is crucial, and every actor at the top of their game in Diversionary Theatre’s newest world premiere

Dave Brubeck’s 'Time Out' Is the Essence of Cool

Celebrating the jazz classic as it reaches its 60th anniversary

A Queen-Inspired Show Debuts in San Diego

San Diego native and America’s Got Talent finalist Brian Justin Crum stars in Somebody to Love at Music Box on February 14
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego Magazine's Travel Awards 2019
    Cast your vote now for your favorite hotels, travel companies, and attractions
  2. Best Restaurants in San Diego: 2018
    San Diego's top restaurant owners, chefs, and bartenders name their favorite San Diego restaurants of 2018.
  3. Winter is Waiting in Montana’s Yellowstone Country
    Win a trip for two that includes roundtrip airfare from Long Beach and a stay at the Element by Westin in Bozeman, Montana
  4. The Best Soup Dumplings in San Diego
    My hunt for the best xiao long bao in the city unearthed two surprising winners
  5. Behind the Brands 2019
  6. First Look: Realm of 52 Remedies
    Wildly imaginative speakeasy cements the arrival of design to San Diego’s Asian food haven
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Puesto's Next Top Taco

Submit your best taco recipe for the chance to win a grand prize

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Sony Consumer Electronics Innovator Builds a Future Where Robotics and Connected Devices Prevail

Robust music and pictures ecosystem bring bespoke experience to TV and audio

Live the Dream with the Dream House Raffle

A multimillion-dollar dream home, fabulous trips, luxury cars, and more could be yours
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags