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Quotes by Nikki Giovanni

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Nikki Giovanni. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Nikki Giovanni

Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni Jr. (born June 7, 1943) is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. One of the world's most well-known African-American poets, her work includes poetry anthologies, poetry recordings, and nonfiction essays, and covers topics ranging from race and social issues to children's literature. She has won numerous awards, including the Langston Hughes Medal and the NAACP Image Award. She has been nominated for a Grammy Award for her poetry album, The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection. Additionally, she has been named as one of Oprah Winfrey's 25 "Living Legends".

Giovanni gained initial fame in the late 1960s as one of the foremost authors of the Black Arts Movement. Influenced by the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement of the period, her early work provides a strong, militant African-American perspective, leading one writer to dub her the "Poet of the Black Revolution". During the 1970s, she began writing children's literature, and co-founded a publishing company, NikTom Ltd, to provide an outlet for other African-American women writers. Over subsequent decades, her works discussed social issues, human relationships, and hip hop. Poems such as "Knoxville, Tennessee" and "Nikki-Rosa" have been frequently re-published in anthologies and other collections.

Giovanni has taught at Queens College, Rutgers, and Ohio State, and is currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech. Following the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, she delivered a chant-poem at a memorial for the shooting victims.


I'm glad I understand that while language is a gift, listening is a responsibility.

Longer Version:

I'm glad I understand that while language is a gift, listening is a responsibility. (U.S. poet and writer, 1943- ).



If you're a writer, the answer to everything is yes.



Some people forget that love is tucking you in and kissing you Good night no matter how young or old you are.



Black love is black wealth.

Longer Version:

Black love is Black wealth and they'll probably talk about my hard childhood and never understand that all the while I was quite happy.



Once you know who you are, you don't have to worry anymore. She knows who she is because she knows who she isn't.



I'm just totally fascinated by people.



God knows it's a sign of a really sick mind to see grown people, adults with responsibilities, wearing class rings.





When younger, I thought one of the particulars of being Homo sapiens was to communicate. I have not learned not to, though I am cautious when I try.



I know this it is difficult to grow up
it always was
it always will be
I know this nobody can tell you how to do it
You just make the same mistakes and
You just thrill to the same excitement
I know this Life is a good idea.



You're only as good as your last book.





We in the Black Arts movement, which wasn't really a movement but a group of people who had similar objectives.



But nonviolence was never for the oppressor; it was for the oppressed.



I try to impress upon my students the importance of looking, listening... paying attention, in other words. You must pay attention.



My Books are like puppies and children: you love each one for different reasons. I don't actually have a favorite because, if I were honest, I'm always more excited about what is coming.





I do not understand why any poet or writer would run for office; that's a different sense of who you are. I'm just a poet. I am as truthful as I can be. That makes me an artist. I heed the people; I do not lead the people.



And neither of them ever
said what they meant
and i guess nobody ever does.



And like an unfaithful mate, once a car has let you down you never sort of trust it again.



If I can't do what I want to do, then my job is to not do what I want to do. It's not the same thing, but it's the best thing I can do.





Poetry is music though, unfortunately, not all music is poetry. Because music has other carriers to take its message -- beats, lyrics, singers, bass players -- anyone in music can rise to make a major statement but in poetry there are only words to do the work. And they do sometimes have to sweat.



One stands, in fact, in awe of the Constitution of the United States, though it is an idea and not quite a reality.



I have not tried to tell the people anything. I have shared my views with the people but I have not tried to lead or correct them, assuming they need correction.



I would put books on par with chocolate, because a good book is delicious.





I am honest; I try to be truthful. I like people and wish us well. We are not always deserving of our own best wishes.



Black Americans should be given credit for finding probably the perfect weapon; the weapon of the song. And that song continues. Most holocausts don't, so they have this bitterness left over. The phenomenon of the world, as far as Black Americans are considered, is that we are not a bitter people.



I am a huge fan of the Black woman. I never hesitate to recommend her when times are bad or things go wrong.



I am proud of the hip hop generation. They are good business people and, actually, good people.

Longer Version:

I am proud of the hip hop generation. They are good business people and, actually, good people. It's strange that the only time the major press talks about them is when someone gets killed or does drugs or something; yet these are the same press people who made heroes out of the Mafia and other crooks, you know.



His headstone said FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST But death is a slave's freedom We seek the freedom of free men And the construction of a world Where Martin Luther King could have lived and preached nonviolence.





I don't have a life-style, I have a life.



School should be eleven months of the year.





My dream is a red dress Above my knees High-heel red sandals And me coming over the top The music booming
Hi Howie I will say
With a lovely smile I don't want to play the game I want to be it.



School buildings should be opened and used twenty four hours a day.



Most of my books are a two-year project. I tend to follow my heart and my mind and research materials where they take me.



I move on feeling and have learned to distrust those who don't.



In the name of peace

They waged the wars

ain't they got no shame.



I appreciate my my sleep In sleep my conversation is witty My home is dusted My office work is up to date The dog is even well behaved And food is on the table on time But then when I'm asleep I don't have you to clutter and confuse My hungry heart.



There is no such thing as writer's block. There is only not enough information. If you can't write, learn something.



And sometimes I sit down at my typewriter and I think not of someone cause there isn't anyone to think about and i wonder is it worth it.



My work is a part of me and I know it. I have no reason to try to pick one part of me out from the rest. I only see my work, or rather I should say I see my work only telling my part of the human experience.





In law school they teach you that everything is a contract; well, in poetry everything is a narrative.



I think it's the strength of her music, using art to make a statement. I think it really is. It was not a cheap gift. The gift was an expensive gift for Nina Simone. Diamonds are expensive. Her music was expensive. She paid for it, but I think it's her greatest gift.



We just didn't put any pressure on each other, and I think that everybody needs somebody, and I didn't do it to try to do it; it's what we with Nina Simone were to each other.



Nina Simone's music is incredibly honest. That's like saying, Why does Jesus' word still stay around? It's incredibly honest and it's good.



I just think she was a wonderful woman. What I think of when I think of Nina Simone is someone that I could relate to, who didn't want anything from me, that could relate to me because I didn't want anything from her. It was nice.







The catchword I use with my classes is: The authority of the writer always overcomes the skepticism of the reader.



If culture was a railroad, I can see the tracks running from the Spirituals to the Hip Hop Nation.



So julian bond was elected president and rap brown chief
justice of the supreme court and nixon sold himself
on 42nd street for a package of winstons.



And as soon as i die i hope everyone who loved me learns the meaning
of my death which is a simple lesson
don't do what you do very well very well and enjoy it it scares white folk
and makes black ones truly mad.



And sometimes on rainy nights you see
an old white woman who maybe you'd really care about
except that you're a young Black woman
whose job it is to kill maim or seriously
make her question
the validity of her existence.



If you are sitting there waiting for someone to tell you how wonderful you are, you'll never get anything done. Women need to get over being women. I'm tired of that socialization of women; that we are always supposed to be sitting around pleasing somebody.



I always thought that would be really neat if black people ever got control of the United States we would, of course, tear down some of the statues because we just don't like them...like all of Richmond would probably not have a statue standing.



Schools should serve breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. No sugared drinks, no fast type food.





This is for equality ... men and women ... blacks and whites ... jews and arabs ... oriental-occidental ... dreamers and the blind ... brilliant and the dumb ... all equal because we have decided ... they are equal ... it's a good system .



What we have here in this experience of America is a group of people who would not be downtrodden because they had a song to sing and we have a song to sing and there will be a new song for a new day but every day that there is a song we will sing it and our spirits will rise.



A white face goes with a white mind. Occasionally a black face goes with a white mind. Very seldom a white face will have a black mind.



We need to make sure our children travel to see things. Not necessarily long distances but at least out of the neighborhood. On a train. A boat. An airplane.



The main advantage about being over thirty is you no longer have to pretend you have a date on Friday night or even, lo and behold, that you want one. You can now easily say to yourself, I hope no one wants to ask me to do anything because I am so looking forward to a hot tub and a midnight snack.



It's not a ladder we're climbing, it's literature we're producing... We cannot possibly leave it to history as a discipline nor to sociology nor science nor economics to tell the story of our people.



If I could come back as anything -- I'd be a bird, first, but definitely the command key is my second choice.



You must invent your own games and teach us old ones how to play.



When you are skinning your customers, you should leave some skin on to grow again so that you can skin them again.



If everybody became a poet the world would be much better. We would all read to each other.



White people really deal more with God and black people with Jesus.



Sacred cows make very poor gladiators.



If now isn't a good time for the truth I don't see when we'll get to it.



I spend a lot of time learning about bird watching.



I am totally fascinated by people and our history as I understand and continue to explore it. People have so much to give and so far to go and yet we have given and gone a great distance. It's really just interesting to ask: why not? And see where that takes me.



There're two people in the world that are not likeable: a master and a slave.



We believe 'Peter Rabbit' because Beatrix Potter believes it. You have to.



We eat up artists like there's going to be a famine at the end.



Now, everything I do, I do because I want to. And I believe the best is yet to come.



Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts.



Some say we are responsible for those we love. Others know we are responsible for those who love us.



Poetry and music are very good friends. Like mommies and daddies and strawberries and cream -- they go together.



Follow your image as far as you can no matter how useless you think it is. Push yourself.



Art is not for the cultivated taste. It is to cultivate taste.



If you don't understand yourself you don't understand anybody else.


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