Enjoy the interview.
Nikki Giovanni Interview Part 2
Tupac Shakur's birthday is in two days. (It was at the time of this interview). You wrote a poem about Tupac, titled, "All Eyez on U" and you even got a Thug Life tattoo, what motivated you do do so?
He was a genius. And a wonderful young man. I think he was deliberately misunderstood. And I think that his death was a great loss.
I agree. It really was.
After the Virginia Tech Massacre, you created two beautiful poems that mourned the tragedy of that event, but also offered words of encouragement to students to stand tall and brave. Those poems were released in a book of poetry entitled Bicycles: Love Poems. What does the bicycle represent?
Bicycle are about trust and balance. That's all a bicycle is. When you get on a bicycle you have to balance and you have to trust that if you keep paddling you won't fall. And that's what life is and that's what love is.
True. Very true.
Well, it's been what five or six years now? None of the students are still here.
They've gone on.
Yes, they've graduated and moved. Sure. This is America. There is a tragedy someplace everyday in America. Everyday somebody is getting killed because some fool has a gun.
Is poetry born out of anger, grief, love or a combination, or perhaps something all together different?
Poetry is an emotion. It comes out an emotional awareness. I wouldn't begin to try to say what brings poetry forth.
You stated previously, that losing your father is different than losing your mother, can you explain?
Probably not. But usually when you lose your father, you have your mother. But when you lose your mother, you only have your brothers and sisters, or sometimes you're by yourself. But it's a major change.
You've experienced a lot of grief with the passing of your father, your mother, your sister, and even the loss of your lung. How does this affect your poetry without having it all pertain to sadness and loss?
I don't think that it's sad. Death is apart of life. And our health in the modern world. everybody has got, well not everybody, I don't mean each and every....people come up with cancers all the time. I'm very fortunate that I'm alive. I've got good medical care and I'm a big fan of medical care. And this is apart of life, life was never what you saw on television.
What do you think about America having a black president and a black first lady? Do you think as African Americans we've made it to the hilltop and brought Martin Luther King's dream to fruition?
NO. I don't think so. This hasn't anything to do with King's dream. King dreamed of a just world. And I don't think we can look at this world that we are living in and see that it's just. America is fighting four wars. I dont' see the justice. We are still holding people in Guantanamo and we are still outsourcing torture and we're sending in drones to kill people. I voted for Barack Obama, this first time. I will not vote for him again. I'm bitterly disappointed that He has not lived up to his promise at all.
If you had a chance to meet President Obama, what would you tell him?
I don't have any reason to think I would have a chance to meet Obama, anymore more than George Bush, any more than any of the other presidents, so I can't think like that. And the color of his skin doesn't change that. The president has to stand for something. And I don't care what color of his skin is. And Barack Obama has refuse to do so.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my interview with Nikki Giovanni next Monday. You don't want to miss what else she has to say.
What did you think of Ms. Giovanni's interview?