As part of the University of Virginia’s Black History Month celebration, acclaimed poet and activist Nikki Giovanni will give a talk, free and open to the public, on “The Politics of Love, Defining the Need for Student Activism.” The talk will be held Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Newcomb Theater.
After her talk, she will sign books in the theater lobby.
A major force in the Black Arts movement in the late 1960s, Giovanni established herself as one of the leading African-American voices from that time until the present day. Since 1987, she has been on the faculty at Virginia Tech, where she is a University Distinguished Professor. She gave an empowering and moving speech after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.
Author of more than 30 books, including some for children, her most recent poetry collections include: “Bicycles: Love Poems” (2009), “Acolytes” (2007), “The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni” (2003) and “Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems” (2002).
Also an accomplished writer of nonfiction, Giovanni published “On My Journey Now: Looking at African-American History through the Spirituals” in 2007. Her earlier book, “Gemini: An Extended Autobiographical Statement on My First Twenty-Five Years of Being A Black Poet,” (1971) was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Her honors include three NAACP Image Awards for Literature, the Langston Hughes Award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters and the Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Chicago Public Library. Oprah Winfrey named her one of 25 “Living Legends.”
Giovanni’s spoken word recordings have also achieved widespread recognition and honors. Her album “Truth Is On Its Way,” on which she reads her poetry against a background of gospel music, was a top-100 album and received the Best Spoken Word Album given by the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers. Her “Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection,” on which she reads and talks about her poetry, was one of five finalists for a Grammy Award.
Several magazines have named Giovanni as “woman of the year,” including Essence, Mademoiselle, Ebony and Ladies Home Journal. She was the first recipient of the Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award.
Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tenn. on June 7, 1943. She grew up in Cincinnati and returned to Knoxville each summer to visit her grandparents. She graduated with honors in history from her grandfather’s alma mater, Fisk University.
Her visit is co-sponsored by the Black Student Alliance, University Programs Council Kappo Rho Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Office for Diversity & Equity, the English Department, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, Black Law Student Association, Black Graduate & Professional Student Organization and the Diversity Initiatives Committee of Student Council.