Tag Archives: #activism

learning audacity

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(my autographed copy of “The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni”)

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
semi-precious jewels”

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 ūüôā The audacity of learning from poetry!

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Some Time for Angela Davis

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Angela Davis is a political activist, academic and author. She emerged as an activist in the 1960’s in northern California with the Black Panther Party. The thing that I personally admire about Angela Davis is her willingness to grow and learn. Many of her contradictions have come from her speaking on new learnings where there hasn’t been a language for Black women. Therefore I don’t view these as contradictions, she was creating a language along the way. She was shifting point of views and stand points. And she continues to do so.

I have heard her speak several times. Once she mentioned that growing up in Birgmingham, Alabama she was friends with two of the girls now infamously known as “The 4 Little Girls”. I can only imagine that her critically thinking mind began back then.

Happy Birthday Angela Davis! Thank you!

 

SHE CHRONICLES: “Say Her Name” Video Post, Nikki Skies

“There is no fire next time, you should be on fire right now!”

This poem is from my new collection of poetry/prose, yardwork, available on Amazon or you can order an autographed copy.

BIBLIOGRAPHY for Narboone High School Poetry Club!

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking with a newly formed Poetry Club at Narboone High School.  A group of eager students who want to venture into the world of creative writing through poetry.  YOU ARE IN FOR A WONDERFULLY FULFILLING JOURNEY!

I know we talked about several poets while we were together.  I just want to reiterate to you the importance of maintaining an active bibliography for your craft.  Here are some of the artists we discussed:

Rita Dove                      Amiri Baraka

Sonia Sanchez              Maya Angelou

“Run Towards Fear” by Haki Madhubuti

Paul Lawrence Dunbar          Margaret Walker

Read on Los Angeles Poetry History Watts Prophets

Juan Felipe Herrera (California Poet Laureate)

Read on the “Harlem Renaissance”

James Baldwin                     Gwendolyn Brooks

Read on the “Black Arts Movement”

‚ÄúMiseducation of the Negro‚ÄĚ by Carter G. Woodson

Nikki Giovanni                        Langston Hughes

Rosa Guy                                 Hoyt W. Fuller

Make sure at some point you incorporate these books in rotation for your readings and then WRITE WRITE WRITE!¬† The world is waiting for you and your voice!¬† Thank you for inviting me and don’t forget to use the other Los Angeles’ artists I suggested to you.

Speak on Love,

Nikki Skies

BIBLIOGRAPHY for Cal State LA! THANK YOU

Thank you to the Cross Cultural Center at Cal State Los Angeles for allowing me to share my artistic journey with writing my novel, The Town Dance.   I was pleased to meet with the students and encourage all the writers in the room.

As I discussed while I was there, as a writer, it is imperative to maintain an active bibliography.  Reading is the BEST writing prompt to keep you active.  Your bibliography should keep you abreast of the writers in your genre and in tune with what your audience is interested in.  Keep in mind, it does not have to be novels you are reading.  It can be a book of poetry, your favorite magazine or reading through your favorite blog.

In regards to our conversation today, I want to share more of the books and authors that were vital resources and tools as I wrote The Town Dance and some literary works I re-visit to study for my writing journey:

Absolutely anything by SONIA SANCHEZ, BELL HOOKS

“Homeade Love” by J. California Cooper

“In Search of Our Mother’s Garden by Alice Walker

“Black Feminist Thought” by Patricia Ann Collins

“Salt” by Nayyirah Waheed

“But Some of Us Are Brave: All The Women are White, All the Blacks are Men; Black Women’s Studies by Aksasha Gloria Hall

In addition, the organizations I referenced were RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) and SAFER (Students Active For Ending Rape).

If you weren’t able to pick up a copy of The Town Dance¬†you can do so here ūüôā¬† Thank you again and keep reading and writing!

Speak on Love,

Nikki Skies

The Necessity of Haki Madhubuti -Guest Post by Mike Sonksen

One of my favorite all time poets is Haki Madhubuti. The genesis of this post came from a conversation I had with Nikki Skies where we both discussed how much Madhubuti’s work meant to each of us. Aside from being one of the most prolific poets in American letters over the last 50 years, Madhubuti is a Professor, editor, activist and publisher. Considered one of the most prominent writers from the Black Arts Movement, Madhubuti has also published books by Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sonia Sanchez, Sterling Plumpp, Pearl Cleage, Dudley Randall, Marc Lamont Hill and Mumia Abu Jamal. He founded Third World Press in Chicago in 1967 and they continue to produce books to this day.

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For most of Madhubuti‚Äôs literary life he has been associated with Chicago. Originally known as Don L. Lee, he changed his name in 1974. Madhubuti has won more awards then there‚Äôs space to list. In addition to three honorary doctorates, fellowships from organizations like the National Endowments of the Arts and National Endowments of the Humanities, Madhubuti was named Chicagoan of the Year from ‚ÄúChicago Magazine‚ÄĚ in 2007. He earned his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa.

Continue reading The Necessity of Haki Madhubuti -Guest Post by Mike Sonksen