Thanksgiving Poems Biography
The poems of Nikki Giovanni helped to define the African-American voice of the 1960s, '70s and beyond. She was also a major force in the Black Arts movement.
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Nikki Giovanni was born on June 7, 1943, Nikki Giovanni established Cincinnati's first Black Arts Festival in 1967. She published her first book of poems, Black Feeling, Black Talk in 1968.
Poet and writer Nikki Giovanni was born Yolande Cornelia Giovanni, Jr., was born on June 7, 1943, in Knoxville, Tennessee. Giovanni is a prominent poet and writer who first caught the publics attention as part of the Black Arts movement of the late 1960s. Growing up in the Cincinnati area, she often visited Knoxville to see family, especially her maternal grandmother. After graduating with honors from Fisk University in 1967, she returned to Cincinnati and established the city's first Black Arts Festival. Giovanni also began writing the poems that are included in her first self-published volume, Black Feeling, Black Talk (1968).
By the mid-1970s, Giovanni had established herself as one of the leading poetic voices. She won a number of awards including Woman of the Year from Ladies Home Journal in 1973. Giovanni also made several television appearances, including the African-American arts and culture show, Soul!. During the 1980s, she continued to publish and spent much of her time touring to attend speaking engagements. Giovanni also found time to teach at College Mount St. Joseph and Virginia Tech University where she still works as a professor.
In recent years, Giovanni has produced several new works. For children, she wrote Jimmy Grasshopper Versus the Ants (2007) and Rosa (2005), a picture book about legendary civil rights figure Rosa Parks. Her latest poetry collection is Acolytes (2007). Also an accomplished writer of nonfiction, Giovanni wrote On My Journey Now: Looking at African-American History through the Spirituals (2007).
Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,
An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;
An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they
Are growin’ more beautiful day after day;
Chattin’ an’ braggin’ a bit with the men,
Buildin’ the old family circle again;
Livin’ the wholesome an’ old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.
Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother’s a little bit grayer, that’s all.
Father’s a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an’ to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin’ our stories as women an’ men.
Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we’re grateful an’ glad to be there.
Home from the east land an’ home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an’ best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We’ve come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an’ be frank,
Forgettin’ position an’ station an’ rank.
Give me the end of the year an’ its fun
When most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin’ with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An’ I’ll put soul in my Thanksgivin’ prayers.
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