When I was asked to write this guest blog, I was humbled as well as delighted. Being the Feminist/Womanist that I am, it is always a pleasure to write about stars which shine brightly in my galaxy.
I can remember the first time I read a poem by Nikki Giovanni. I was meandering through an old musty bookstore in Georgia uttering the mantra of all morose teenagers, “Moooooom I’m bored”. My Mother is Southern and does NOT play. She told me in that special tone to find a book, sit down, and be quiet. In my haste to stay out of trouble, I grabbed a book of poetry and quickly claimed a musty velvet chair in the dimly lit corner of the store.
Uninterested, I thumbed through the seemly ancient pages until a title procured my attention. The title of the poem was “Ego Tripping”. As I read the words, I felt something change inside of me. It felt as if I was being scorched by the sun from the inside out. When the poem concluded, I felt a profound sense of loss, similar to the feeling when your favorite movie concludes. I wanted to reclaim the sense of being consumed by her words.
“Ego Tripping” is full of life, emotion, wisdom. I couldn’t get enough. Lines like “I am so perfect, So divine, So ethereal, So surreal, I cannot be comprehended except by MY permission” or “I’m so hip even my errors are correct” resonated into my soul.
After that experience, I couldn't get enough of Nikki Giovanni. I researched her as if I were her biographer. Anything remotely connected to Nikki Giovanni, I consumed voraciously and was still ravenous for more. I spent the majority of the summer trying to convince my family we were related to her, especially since our families are from the same state. Unfortunately, we are of no relation.
Nikki Giovanni has lived an amazing life which is eloquently chronicled through her poetry. She was an activist when activism was dangerous. Nikki was a feminist when feminism was unpopular. A womanist before the term was even conceived. Her poems are full of strength and never vacillating. She wrote about the black experience without watering it down for the masses, yet presented it in a manner in which it could be digested by all eager for enlightenment. Nikki Giovanni is courageous, fierce, bold, and most of all secure in her womanhood. That is why she will always be the fire in my soul.
Check out some of Nikki Giovanni's books of poems here, and some of the children's books that she's written here. She's a bad-ass.