The Shapes We Mae

WOMAN OF THE WEEK: NIKKI GIOVANNI

Kate WeinerComment

Last week we profiled poet Mary Oliver; this week, we're celebrating poet Nikki Giovanni because (1) we can never have enough poetry in our lives and (2) Nikki is a Grade-A badass.

Nikki has written both "militant" poetry and poetry for children. She's a best-selling author with a gorgeous grasp of language and a deep appreciation for the moments of beauty and humor and nerve that make life rich. She's a mother and grandmother who waxes poetic on her tattoos. 

Nikki is that rare mix of bighearted and ballsy, of powerful and vulnerable. She's spent a lifetime writing and lecturing and learning and loving, creating spaces for black female poets in particular to be known. She writes about what we don't want to hear, what we are afraid to admit to ourselves. She writes about what we know and sometimes forget: the aliveness embedded in a bike ride, the joy of just being.

And when no one wanted to publish her writing, Nikki published it herself. She took control of her narrative in a way few of us feel entitled to. She believed in what she had to say and put it out there without apology. Grade-A Badass.

Here's to Nikki: to poetry, to striving, to taking control of our narrative.

Below, Maria Popova reads "Love Is..." by Nikki Giovanni. For me recordings of her work, check out Brainpickings.