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Nikki Giovanni expresses the values that pervade her writing and her ongoing commitment to the Black community.
1. What does she mean by "anticipating a life"? How does the craft of writing fit into that plan?
2. What kind of advice does she give young people? Why does she dismiss the idea that it's not what you know, but rather how you live your life?
3. Why did she write "I Was Old"? Discuss its literary techniques. Are they effective?
4. What qualities in "Knoxville, Tennessee" signal Giovanni's style?
Nikki Giovanni is one of America's most widely read and controversial poets. The visionary, truth-telling qualities that have come to be associated with poetry of the sixties and early seventies are yet alive in her writings. Giovanni entered the literary world at the height of the Black Arts Movement and quickly achieved not simply fame but stardom. Truth Is On Its Way, a recording of her poems recited to gospel music, was one of the best-selling albums in the country in 1971. All but one of her books are still in print with several having sold more than 100,000 copies. Named woman of the year by three magazines, including Ebony, and recipient of a host of honorary doctorates and awards, Nikki Giovanni has read from her work and lectured at college around the country. Her books include Black Feeling; Black Talk/Black Judgement; My House; Ego-Tripping and Other Poems for Young People; The Women and the Men; Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day; Those Who Ride the Night Winds; Sacred Cows...and Other Edibles, Racism 101, and Love Poems, her most recent work. Giovanni is a professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
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