interview With Nikki Giovanni


Of the most striking things that just jumped out at me all the way through your writing and and writing about you and all the way to the latest volume of poetry published in two thousand thirteen is how from the very beginning you were held and cherished and taught by courageous loving women Your mother you were named your first name as yulon right yeah. It used to be when when mommy passed i I had it legally changed the nikki. Just because that's what everybody knows me. I would have never done when mommy was here. I wouldn't. I wouldn't want her to think i didn't want to carry her name. I'm rhonda junior. So how old were were you when you change your name legally ben mommy's been dead ten years so sixty two something like that sixty three years old. And how do you say your grandmother's name. Lavinia lavinia lavinia lavinia. Emma lou watson. Also that you were all sounds like foodies before the the word had been invented. Oh grandmother was a foodie and grandmothers. Friends were foodi. And of course i ended up. Living with grandma not ended up but Was was fortunate to live with grandmother. so mommy was a good cook because she was grandmothers daughter and My on an was a good cook Living with grandmother And i learned all of their tricks. My favorite was of course greens. And i'm still still still working on that because working making greens is one of life's difficulties. Just clean them and stuff. Well mommy mom and grandmother to you pull than to tie the stems and you put the leaves in and he uses stems to flavor and then you pull it out and so she was very good at that but the other thing. I was laughing and laughing about this. You didn't ask him about this. But in grandmother's day you know used to go the market and you bought a live chicken. Actually grandpa did the the marketing and he would bring it home and they put it in the backyard and then grandmother would go out saturday morning and we its neck but you learn to learn to do that and i guess i have learned to. It's something that i'm dealing with on another kind of level but for something to live something else usually dies. There's there's a transition is not something. I would have been able to even to say to you at Even fifty years ago my twenties. I wouldn't have it it's really It's been interesting You reported in nineteen forty. Three's that right And yes and you so you grew up in a i like this. You talk a lot about what we call the sixties what is called the sixties which which you really date from about nineteen fifty four to nineteen sixty eight Which was such a dramatic moment. I mean a lot of transition. I mean you've just been using that word one question. I ask people whoever been talking to you as you know how. Would you describe the religious and spiritual background of your childhood. And i wonder how you would start to talk about that. And i really mean the fullness of that you know that that your family but also that world do you came into I i grew up of course Baptist baptist mount zion baptist church but when when mommy married My father married we call them gusts because daddy gus. When mommy may gust they moved to cincinnati. Because he couldn't get a job he was college graduate. He couldn't get a job in knoxville and so they moved to cincinnati where he could get a job and mommy joined the Ame church but if we're just going to just kinda breeze on religion without getting into anybody's business you know. I recently have been fascinated with. Wyatt is that we don't actually look into the manger more. We always look at the cross. And i think that one of the problems with the manger is that we have to mary credit for bringing god to earth and The book that i'm working on right now actress called a good cry and it's just because Realize women keep a lot of things in them. I do know this for married. I'm gonna give credit having a baby hurts. I don't care who it is. A weird came from having a baby hurts. So i wanna give mary her. Craps and i also want to deal with the fact that as we are giving this birth part of the christian religion is supposed to do is give birth to a new human being you. Ask one kind of question. I don't know if i'm answering it. Strangely no but great. I think this question lands wherever in us. It wants to begin voice. I mean you you also want said you you said jos. Think it must have been a woman who developed the spiritual. Oh gosh when we look at savored which actually slavery is only going to be the end result. We have to look at the kidnapping in africa. We have to look at no matter. What the country. We have to look at the fact that somebody's sold and somebody purchased an and that just cannot be denied. We we're upset of course with the europeans because we say oh they create a slavery they might have but they didn't create the buying and selling of human beings that that had been going on for quite some time all over so we had the people coming across that ocean not knowing where they were going but knowing whatever it was they were not going to go back to where they used to be so somehow another. They had to make a decision. How do we go forward. But it had to be a woman because we're back to the manger we back to marry. We're back to this when women do it had to be a woman who said i need to settle my people down and when you consider there were a lot of languages. Going on yeah. She didn't speak english at that point. They didn't speak. Why healy at that point. They were in many languages. The only common language is going to be So when we get to going to ultimately become the united states these people had created a way to speak to themselves to each other through the language to spare chose. Yeah so when you were twenty five you road. I'm twenty five years old. A revolutionary poet. I- love seth. I want to ask you about the. The i love tacked on at the end of the sentence but i also want to ask you about what you meant at twenty five when you said you'll revolutionary poet and how you hey you look at that now as nikki. Giovanni quite a few years later i think twenty five was good but i always thought twenty five was one fourth of my life

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