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Monday, July 18, 2011

Interview with Poet Nikki Giovanni Part 3

Goodmorning everyone. Here is part 3 of my interview with Nikki Giovanni. If you've missed any of the previous interviews, please go to the Author Interviews tab and you will find the previous two interviews. Also, don't forget to check out the Spotlight Poetry contest entries. They are doing such a spectacular job. I have really been enjoying the poetry they have submitted. If you still want to enter, there is still time. Just go the Spotlight Poetry Submission tab and follow the guidelines to enter. And please spread the word, we want as many poets as possible to have the opportunity to share their work and have a chance at winning the prize.


Nikki Giovanni Interview
I’m going to give you four words; can you give me a poem that best represents each attribute? For instance, if I say surrogate, I might think of the poem, The Aunt by Mari Evans.

Love Poems
All of my poems are about hope.

You have written several books of poetry for children? How do you get children interested in poetry and how can we inspire our youth to be more empowered?
Well, you know children are not stupid. And I think you have to approach them as intelligent beings. And I m really thrilled that they have enjoyed the books that I’ve written. But I approach children like anything else, like they are intelligent. And you approach them as intelligent. I think I am a pretty good story teller, but one of the reasons I am is that the stories are true.  I’m sharing something with them, something that they not only need to know but enjoy getting to know. And that’s black or white. That doesn’t matter. My book Rosa, has been well received all over the community, kids like it, white kids like it, black kids like it, and I wanted to share Mrs. Parks as I knew her. I think kids will read if we give them the books.

So true.

What are your thoughts about the segregation of books by African American writer’s in book stores?
Well, you know, that’s been a controversy. Because you say segregation, and other people call it categories, but I don’t read for example… umm…what is that stuff… I don’t read murder mysteries, so I’m glad there is a section on murder mystery, cause I don’t have to go to it. And I don’t read it anymore, I use to read a lot of science fiction when I was much younger, I don’t read it anymore. So I’m glad there is a section on science fiction. I read poetry and I’m glad there is a section on poetry.  And I read a lot of black American authors, so I’m glad when I walk into a bookstore, I don’t have to go through everybody that ever wrote, to find what I’m looking for, I don’t think of it as segregation, I think of it as categories.

That’s a good way of looking at it.
In a previous interview you mentioned that Fredrick Douglass had input into Abraham Lincoln’s administration. Are you currently working on a project to educate readers about that relationship and the influence Fredrick Douglass may have had on the Emancipation Proclamation being signed?

I have written the book, it’s called An American Friendship: Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass and the book is out. I have not done any additional work to that. No.


Stay tuned to the final conclusion of my interview with Ms. Nikki Giovanni next Monday. You know she will have something interesting and insightful to say.

What did you think of the interview today? Do you agree with Ms. Giovanni about the segregation of African American books in bookstores? Are they simply categorized or are books segregated in bookstores?

What poems comes to mind when you think of love, desire, pain and hope?


  1. I loved her answer about the segregation in book stores. I agree. I see it more as categories, than segregation. I'm sure they have a GLBT section as well and I know people looking for that genre would appreciate the category.

    I was watching the film, Bright Star last night. It's about John Keats and Fanny Brawne and their doomed love story. I love Keats's poems and especially Bright Star, which he supposedly wrote for Brawne.

  2. Love Nikki's thoughts on children and poetry/literature - so true! I do think they are open to everything if only we give them the opportunity and exposure to a range of material (and also set good examples).

  3. I love the NEW Blog Look.
    I can accept Ms. Giovanni explanation of categorizing the books. However I think its Segregation and I don't mind it for BOOKS. In bookstores and libraries, (most) the fiction books are the only books that are separated. when I browse for a cookbook its not in the A.A. cookbook section, its with category 'food' where all ethnic or culture cookbooks are by white, black, japanesse, Italians and authors. As i stated i don't mind it for Books, however then i browse the other sections because I'm a diverse reader.

  4. Lena I couldn't remember wher I had read or heard Ms. Giovanni's poem that you posted the first day. And then the episode of A Different World came on where Kim performed it and I was like FINALLY! That's where I'd seen it so long ago. LOVE it! Anyways, excellent interview still. I actually agree with Ms. Giovanni. While I understand the big picture...I'm kind of glad there is an AA section in many bookstores. That way I'm not searching through stacks and stacks and I can go right the section I'm looking for.

  5. I don't think of it as "segregation," either. Like any other "category," makes it easier to find. Excellent job, Lena!

  6. I don't think of it as "segregation," either. Like any other "category," makes it easier to find. Excellent job, Lena!

  7. I'm glad you asked that question about segregation in bookstores. That's been on my mind a lot lately. And I'm still on the fence about it. On the one hand, yes, the people were most likely thinking categories when they decided to do that. On the other hand, I feel it separates out books based on people's nationality - like African-American books, Asian books, Native Indian books, and "Other" books. Who are these others? I may go to a shelf knowing what kind of book I want to read, but how do teens approach this? Still, I like Nikki Giovanni's approach to it, and that's what I'm trying to adapt to as well.

  8. Thanks everyone for your insight. I think Ms. Giovanni did a great job explaining. I'm still on the fence about it myself.

    And I do remember that episode Jade, I just found A Different World playing on TvOne, talk about excited and the next few episodes are my favorite, where Dwayne begs Whitley to marry him, so you know I'll be watching.


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I am a writer, filmmaker, wife and a mom of five beautiful, intelligent, quirky kids. This blog is for writers, aspiring writers, filmmakers and movie lovers. Bringing you my favorite books, films and photos, as well as giveaways and updates on my journey. I'm currently in the process of producing my first short film from my collection of short stories titled, If I Had My Way. The first story to be filmed will be Tandarin Drive. My award winning book, If I Had My Way, is available now. You can purchase a copy at and You may contact me via email at:

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