Thomas Giovanni – Poet and Dancer
Giovanni finds solace in writing after her grandmother dies, turning to revolutionary art journals such as Conversation in Cincinnati as well as participating in Detroit Conference of Unity and Art events.
After graduating from Fisk University, she moved to New York City where her work quickly received recognition.
Early Life and Education
Giovanni began honing her writing skills while attending Fisk, editing its student literary magazine and participating in writing workshops. While at Fisk, the black renaissance began, and Giovanni began using her writing to address issues of race and culture in America.
Giovanni’s early works reflected this political and spiritual awareness. Her books Gemini and Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgement displayed strong African-American perspectives, drawing widespread interest for black literature.
She has also written occasional volumes of nonfiction, such as Racism 101, in which she recounts her experience during and following the civil rights movement and its aftermath. Additionally, she examines both daily life under slavery as well as spiritual practices within black history.
After earning her magna cum laude degree from Fisk in 1967, Giovanni studied social work for one semester at University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work on a Ford Foundation Fellowship before returning home and beginning to teach at Livingston College of Rutgers University and publishing privately her first collection of poetry, Black Feeling, Black Talk.
Giovanni’s poems began to address issues pertaining to family and domestic life after she gave birth. One such prose poem is Nikki-Rosa, an ode to her close-knit African-American family that became one of her most revered works.
Giovanni founded NikTom, Ltd. as a publishing cooperative to bring exposure to other African American women writers such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Margaret Walker. Additionally, her travels shaped her work.
Achievement and Honors
Giovanni writes poetry that spans various forms and styles. Her poems can enrage, move and even amuse readers; she has been described as honest, charming and eccentric in her approach. Giovanni continues producing work that examines issues facing black America.
Giovanni was active at Fisk School during her time there, contributing to its literary magazine and joining both Writer’s Workshop and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Additionally, she became part of the Black Arts Movement by organizing and overseeing Cincinnati’s inaugural Black Arts Festival.
Giovanni publishes Ego Tripping and Other Poems for Young Readers as well as A Dialogue between James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni, an edited transcript of their taped conversation, followed by speaking engagements and heavy speaking schedule. She suffers a stroke herself before her father passes away causing Giovanni’s writing focus to shift significantly.
Giovanni writes poetry and nonfiction that explores race and culture issues, is a frequent speaker, has received 27 honorary degrees and was even honored with having her name given to a South American bat species (Micrnycteris Giovanniae).
At Fisk University, Giovanni participates in the First Writers Conference and edits Elan literary magazine on campus. She works to reestablish a chapter of SNCC which promotes black power as an avenue to political change.
Poetry written during this period helped establish her as an important new voice. Her debut collection, Black Feeling, Black Talk sold over 10,000 copies its first year; while “Nikki-Rosa”, an autobiographical piece about growing up within an intimate African-American family was included in Black Judgment.
Giovanni has built up an impressive portfolio as a professional dancer, earning estimated earnings of more than PS1,756 per sponsored Instagram post. She has collaborated with notable figures like Ru Paul’s Drag Race contestant Michelle Visage and radio host Laura Whitmore.
Nikki Giovanni is an esteemed poet acclaimed by numerous awards and accolades for her work. Additionally, she serves as writer, commentator, educator and public figure – best-known works include Black Judgement Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day and Bicycles: Love Poems.
Over the past 18 months, Giovanni has completed four insider transactions involving Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. He sold shares worth USD 345,000 while purchasing another batch worth USD 95,017.