Nikki Giovanni

American poet, writer and activist

Nikki Giovanni (June 7, 1943) is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator.

Nikki Giovanni speaking at Emory University 2008.jpg


  • History is wonderful. We have so much we can learn if we would quit making ideology out of history, and just deal with what happened…
  • Politics is personal. That, however, doesn’t mean it’s ideological. It means that one cares about what she or he is doing, what he or she is writing…
  • As a writer, one has to be willing to be wrong, willing to make mistakes. I’ve put everything on the table and accepted the fact that I may come up short. And, if (or when) I do, that’s okay.
  • Poets shouldn't commit suicide. That would leave the world to those without imaginations or hearts. That would bequeath to the world a mangled syntax and no love of champagne. Poets must live in misery and ecstasy, to sing a song with the katydids. Poets should be ashamed to die before they kiss the sun.
  • You have to read the poem and say, “My god, that’s a good poem,” and kind of smile at yourself. If you’re not willing to do that, then you’re wasting your time, and you’re hurting yourself in another way because you’re trying to please somebody who doesn’t like you. You don’t want to get in that position.

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