I was introduced to Nikki Giovanni through the poem, “Ego Tripping”
“I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended
except by my permission”
“I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
I was maybe a senior in high school when I found Giovanni through this poem at my local library. And I remember the embarrassed feeling I got after I read the poem. I thought…”who is this woman bragging on herself?” “who does she think she is to be referencing herself a Queen and being the mother to Hannibal and Noah?” I remember it felt great but it was also foreign. I almost didn’t want to be caught reading it.
What I realize now is that may have been my first time being introduced to an African American feminine narrative.
The poem wasn’t about doors or boats from Robert Frost.
The poem wasn’t about hope and feathers from Emily Dickinson.
It wasn’t the blues from Langston Hughes.
It wasn’t Walt Whitman or Anne Sexton or Paul Lawrence Dunbar…
or my beloved Maya Angelou and her Caged Bird…
Nikki Giovanni was the first time I read an African American woman refer to herself as beautiful and being directly connected to all things beautiful in the art world of poetry.
I remembering sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle at the library and reading the poems in her book and imagining a Tennessee cloud looking like cotton candy… women being judged for the length of their Sunday school dresses… summer love… and even to this day when someone mentions her name… it makes me smile and remember meeting her in the library that afternoon.
When I walked across the Pettus Bridge in Selma for the 50th anniversary earlier this year, Rev. Al Sharpton said something in a sermon that struck a cord with me. He said, “We praise our dead and condemn the living.” It made me want to acknowledge everyone that has served as inspiration to me before they left this planet!
So today, I acknowledge Nikki Giovanni! I speak her name for inspiring me and making me feel so embarrassingly, wonderful and warm about myself one afternoon at the library 🙂 The audacity of learning from poetry!
Get your copy of my new collection of poetry/prose, yardwork, today.
here is some of my privilege.
I believe they were thinking of me
wearing myrrh and adorned in silver
and that is not selfish
we share the same sun
– the kiss on our skin
we share a love of puzzles
– arrangements of letters
we turn into poems – plays – books – speeches
“abandon finesse & sweat
revolt paying double for life
or occupying corners like unwanted dining room tables
Visit my author page on Amazon and add some of my titles to your winter reading list.
Cleaning the house
Driving around doing errands
Spoken word from my one and only poetry cd, “Moody” Just click and enjoy;-)
There’s something intensely intimate about cooking a meal for a man
then having him hold your hand across the table and say / grace.
In between the “I love you’s”
this is how we reconnect:
I straddle and clutch on to him
for my dear life and he /
recharges himself inside of me with all I have to offer / then
me and my man we go out and change
from the poetry book, Pocket Honey, Wind & Hips
She say for her family
she do what she can
when in reality it be for her man
who wants another mother like her son
so she wipe both they asses / and then her tears cause it be from the same shit
too tired more / more tired than / her mother who
taught her how to stay
who lived and died the same way
the palm reader etched on her palm.
now that she know,
she can remain calm
when he comes to bed
smelling like fuck nut and dried saliva
he’ll say it’s all in her head
so she close her eyes and have nightmares
of forever being a fool.
from the poetry book, Pocket Honey Wind & Hips
sky readers / moon believers
before the sunrise prayers
Wisdom Born Mamas sew star, sun, earth, heart shaped
quilts to warm babies
and free souls
hearing from the wind when to hang ’em
high on the clothes line
Before rooster crow / before master know
patterns on quilts mapped out which way to go
to wade in the water
Missing Rifle / Missing Woman.
**Dedicated to the courage of Harriet Tubman and the slaves and quakers that made quilts and hung them to slyly map the way to freedom**