Nikki Giovanni Poems

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Nikki Giovanni
Nikki Giovanni was born June 7, 1943 in Knoxville, Tennessee to Yolande Cornelia, Sr. and Jones "Gus" Giovanni. Her father's lineage is obscure, but Giovanni believes that he is "descended from slaves owned by an Italian slaveowner." She grew up in Lincoln Heights, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, and in 1960 began her studies at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, her grandfather's alma mater. She graduated in 1967 with honors, receiving a B.A. in history. Afterwards she went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. In 1969 Giovanni began teaching at Livingston College of Rutgers University. Giovanni gave birth to Thomas Watson Giovanni, her only child, on August 31, 1969 while visiting Cincinnati for Labor Day Weekend. She later stated that she had a child out of wedlock at twenty-five because she "wanted to have a baby and I could afford to have a baby" and because of her conviction that marriage as an institution was inhospitable to women and would never play a role in her life. After her son's birth, Giovanni rearranged her priorities around him and has stated that she would give her life for him. "I just can't imagine living without him. But I can live without the revolution, without world socialism, women's lib...I have a child. My responsibilities have changed." Both Giovanni's mother and sister died of lung cancer and in 1995 Giovanni herself was diagnosed with the disease. She had surgery at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati and eventually had a lung removed. Giovanni gave up smoking after she was diagnosed, saying in 1996 that she now smokes in her dreams. She also denies the fact that her cancer has made her a better person, adding that "if it takes a near-death experience for you to appreciate your life, you're wasting somebody's time." In 1999, Giovanni said she would like to negotiate a truce with her cancer, stating that she'd "like an agreement that we will live together for another 30 years." In 2005 Giovanni contributed an introduction to the book Breaking the Silence: Inspirational Stories of Black Cancer Survivors.

i'm not lonely
i'm not lonely
sleeping all alone

you think i'm scared
but i'm a big girl
... [read poem]
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