When Nikki Giovanni's poems first emerged during the Civil Rights, Black Power and Black Arts Movements in the 1960s, she immediately took a place among the most celebrated and influential poets of the era. Now, more than 30 years later, Nikki Giovanni still stands as one of the most commanding, luminous voices to grace America's political and poetic landscape.
Poet, activist, mother and professor Nikki Giovanni was born June 7, 1943, in Knoxville, Tennessee.While a student at Fisk University, she re-established the campus's Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Chapter in 1965. In New York, 1968, after studying at University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Work and Columbia University's School of Fine Arts and, she self-published her first volume of poetry Black Feeling, Black Talk.
Over the span of 30 years as a poet, Ms. Giovanni has received nineteen honorary degrees from colleges and universities including, Fisk University, Smith College, Indiana University, Delaware State University, and University of Maryland. Her numerous awards include Woman of the Year for Ebony, Mademoiselle, Essence, and Ladies Home Journal magazines; YWCA Woman of the Year, Cincinnati Chapter; Outstanding Woman of Tennessee Award; Ohio Women's Hall of Fame induction; Distinguished Recognition Award, Detroit City Council; McDonald's Literary Achievement Award for Poetry presented in the name of Nikki Giovanni in perpetuity; Outstanding Humanitarian Award, The House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Kentucky; two Tennessee Governor's Award in the Arts and in the Humanities; the Virginia Governor's Award; and two NAACP Image Awards for Love Poems and Blues: For All the Changes. Ms. Giovanni has been given the keys to more than a dozen cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, New Orleans, and Baltimore. Most recently, she was named the first recipient of the Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award.
Nikki Giovanni is the author of 16 books of poetry for adults and children including the seminal Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgement, Re: Creation, My House, The Women and the Men, Those Who Ride the Night Winds, The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni, Love Poems and her most recent Blues: For All the Changes. Nikki is University Distinguished Professor/English at Virginia Tech. She continues to read her work all over the country.