Nikki Giovanni "Truth Telling and the Need for Poetry
Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 7:30 PM
Ted Mann Concert Hall
I’ll be honest; prior to February 28th I had never heard of Nikki Giovanni. I knew her face from a photo of a poster and I knew her name from the mouths of other people. Other than this she was a mystery to me. What did she do? What made her life important? Where is she from? What is her relevance to me? After listening to Nikki on that night, all my questions were answered. I now am glad to say I know Nikki Giovanni.
Going into the concert hall, I was amazed at the energy of the audience. Their dynamic body motions and eager conversations conveyed their sense of excitement for Nikki. Everyone giddily exchanged words as they kept one eye on stage, waiting to see the stage door open signaling the start of the event at hand. As the time drew close to 7:30, I read over the program I received in the lobby. I became aware of the importance of Ms Giovanni. Her extensive work in publishing is intimidating. She is extremely well accomplished in academics and her personal life. I questioned why I have not heard of her prior to this evening. I could hardly wait for her to take the stage.
Once Ms Giovanni took stage, the audience watched in awe. We laughed when she laughed. We cried when she cried. We hurt when she expressed pain. And we questioned ourselves when she asked us to. Her focus of the night was, as the program details, the need for truth telling and poetry. She talked of her relationship with Rosa Parks, and how it lead to her writing in a children’s book telling the story of Ms Parks. She read several excerpts from the book, interspersing random anecdotes about their relationship. She went off on tangents about stories; one about a boy in the south was killed about angry white men, with the death trying to pushed aside by the police. She talked a lot about her relationship with her family, with an emphasis on her mother. Although Nikki’s mother is no longer with her, her words made her seem alive on stage. She also read her favorite pieces from her current work Acolytes. She expressed the greatest need for reading between our youth, the need for us to express ourselves, and the need for us all to live and feel alive.
I learned many things from Ms Giovanni that night. I learned of a woman who deserves to be heard by everyone. Her voice is not one to be ignored. You do not need to be of a certain status or of a certain color to identify with Ms Giovanni. I am adding many of her works to my reading lists. I hope to hear and read more of Nikki, and I look forward to telling more about this great woman.