Monday, February 15, 2010

Black American Women You Need to Know Day 15: Nikki...


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via Bits on 2/15/10

Black American Women You Need to Know

Day 15: Nikki Giovanni

Photo via Bill Moyers' Journal - Check it out, as it includes video & transcript of his interview with her, links to a photo essay, and other resources on Nikki Giovanni.

Nikki Giovanni is one of our national treasures. For decades she has offered her wit and wisdom, her bruising honesty, and, above all, her unbound love through these poems, as a healing for herself, her community, and her country.  ~ Gloria Naylor, blurb for publication of Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems & Not Quite Poems

Nikki Giovanni is most known for her poetry, but she has also an autobiography, poetry for children, and produced spoken word pieces, as well as being an activist and English professor.


if i can't do
what i want to do
then my job is to not
do what i don't want
to do

it's not the same thing
but it's the best i can

if i can't have
what i want … then
my job is to want
what i've got
and be satisfied
that at least there
is something more to want

since i can't go
where i need
to go … then i must … go
where the signs point
through always understanding
parallel movement
isn't lateral

when i can't express
what i really feel
i practice feeling
what i can express
and none of it is equal
i know
but that's why mankind
alone among the animals
learns to cry


childhood rememberances are always a drag
if you're Black
you always remember things like living in Woodlawn
with no inside toilet
and if you become famous or something
they never talk about how happy you were to have
your mother
all to yourself and
how good the water felt when you got your bath
from one of those
big tubs that folk in chicago barbeque in
and somehow when you talk about home
it never gets across how much you
understood their feelings
as the whole family attended meetings about Hollydale
and even though you remember
your biographers never understand
your father's pain as he sells his stock
and another dream goes
And though your're poor it isn't poverty that
concerns you
and though they fought a lot
it isn't your father's drinking that makes any difference
but only that everybody is together and you
and your sister have happy birthdays and very good
and I really hope no white person everhas cause
to write about me
because they never understand
Black love is Black wealth and they'll
probably talk about my hard childhood
and never understand that
all the while I was quite happy


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