Nov 3, 2008

Interview with Poet Nikki Giovanni

Welcome Nikki Giovanni, a poet and author, to Savvy Verse & Wit. She was gracious enough to take time out of her busy touring schedule for Hip Hop Speaks to Children to answer some questions about her writing process, the book, and poetry. Thanks to Sourcebooks for sending Hip Hop Speaks to Children to me for review, which you can read here.

1. What prompted you to become involved with the Hip Hop Speaks to Children? And do you think poetry is important for children and adults and why?

I became interested a long, long time ago because my son listened to hip hop. I began even then to try to learn where this "new sound" was coming from since I well know everything old is new again, as the expression goes.

2. Poetry and music seem very akin to one another; do you feel that other genres can apply the rhythm of Hip Hop and other styles to generate passion among children, such as a passion for reading?

I think there is an ebb and flow to everything; there is a rhythm to all speech whether spoken or written. The most important sound is always silence. It is the pauses that make up the meaning. I wanted to give some sense of that rhythm to young people as well as a bit of history.

3. Do you believe that writing is an equalizer that can help humanity become more tolerant and collaborative?

Writing is an equalizer only in so far as what is being written is truthful. Written lies promote hatred and we've seen a lot of that lately. Writing is only a tool of the truth, and we who believe in a more tolerant world need to keep putting that truth out.

4. Do you see spoken word, performance poetry, or written poetry as more powerful or powerful in different ways and why?

I think all art has its moments and reasons. I don't see any special reason to rank effectiveness since we all cross over and learn from each genre. (Well said!)

5. Do you have a set writing routine? Do you get up early and start writing or do you write when the mood hits?

I am a early morning or late night writer. I am more comfortable when I know I will not be disturbed. I must say that mood has nothing to do with professionalism. All writers study all the time; learning something all the time; looking at things differently all the time. That's what is important.

6. Can you describe your writing space?

I write in essentially a tight space. It is a small room with lots of books, a CD player, some photos, and my computer. I have a phone in here but it seldom rings. Also my fax and xerox machine. I sit on a rocker.

Do you have any advice for writers/poets just starting out?

The only advice I have is you, the young writer, should always be reading something. A book, a magazine, a newspaper, anything. A writer who is not reading isn't doing her homework.

Thanks again to Nikki Giovanni for sharing her unique perspective with us.

Also, here are some reminders about the latest Savvy Verse & Wit Contests:
(Deadlines are Nov. 5)

1. Win a copy of Black Flies by Shannon Burke

2. Win a copy of Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby

3. Win a copy of Lydia Bennet's Story by Jane Odiwe


Anonymous said...

My son is an English major at Virginia Tech, where Nikki Giovanni teaches. He says the students love her.

Anonymous said...

Nice interview. I like Nikki's perspectives on writing and poetry very much. I am a musician as well as a writer and even though I don't write a lot of poetry I feel that the musician in me helps me have a rhythm to my prose, a natural inclination to make the prose move along anywhere from andante to allegro with a lyrical flow to it.

Serena said...

Bermudaonion: I've never met her in person, but I think she would be a fantastic teacher.

Marvin: I think artists often have a number of influences, which is why I was interested in reviewing her book that takes elements of hip hop and poetry to help get kids excited about writing and creating.

Toni said...

What a nice interview. I really liked the part about truth being written. Thank you for sharing this. I really enjoyed it.

Shana said...

Great interview! I can just see Nikki's writing room in my mind, and it seems a very inspiring space.


Serena said...

I love her answers. It was great that she took the time to answer the questions. I'm very happy she did.

Dawn said...

I remember when you reviewed this a few weeks ago, the book really caught my attention.

Thanks for the great interview, Nikki and Serena.

Anna said...

Great interview! I especially liked this part: A writer who is not reading isn't doing her homework. That's great advice!

Diary of an Eccentric

Anonymous said...

My husband saw Nikki give a reading at Virginia Tech and said that she was just wonderful. I will never forget her for her speech following the VT Massacre. For me and many of my co-workers, that was the first moment in many days we felt hopeful and alive. I cannot say enough about her. I'm going to have to get that book for my daughters. It looks interesting. Thanks for posting this wonderful interview!

Serena said...

I've heard so many good things about Nikki, she sounds like a great person. I loved this book.

Wendi B. - Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reading in Seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wendi B. - Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reading in Seattle said...

Nikki sounds like a great mom!

:) Wendi

Your interview has been added to

About the Author - An Author Interview Index