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Nikki Giovanni

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

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Of Liberation," Black Judgement ()
  • ... I really hope no white person ever has cause / to write about me / because they never understand / 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.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Nikki-Rosa," Black Judgement ()
  • In the name of peace / They waged the wars / ain't they got no shame.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "The Great Pax Whitie," Black Judgement ()
  • Death is a slave's freedom.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • speech at Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral ()
  • i'm a modern woman / ain't gonna let this get me down / gonna take my master charge / and get everything in town

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Master Charge Blues," Re:Creation ()
  • it was good for the virgin mary / it was good enough for mary / it was good for the virgin mary / its good enough for me.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Poem for Unwed Mothers," Re:Creation ()
  • ... nobody mentions how it feels to become a freak / because you have talent and how / no one gives a damn how you feel ...

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Poem for Aretha," Re:Creation ()
  • ... we eat up artists like there's going to be a famine at the end / of those three minutes when there are in fact an abundance / of talents just waiting lets put some / of the giants away for a while and deal with them like they have / a life to lead.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Poem for Aretha," Re:Creation ()
  • ... there's a reason we lose a lot its not our game / and we don't know how to score ...

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Toy Poem," Re:Creation ()
  • ... and he said: you pretty full of yourself ain't chu / so she replied: show me someone not full of herself / and i'll show you a hungry person ...

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Poem for a Lady Whose Voice I Like," Re:Creation ()
  • Facts are only tools to gain control over yourself and other people.

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

  • The more you love someone the more he wants from you and the less you have to give since you've already given him your love.

  • Life/personality must be taken as a total entity. All of your life is all of your life, and no one incident stands alone.

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

  • and if ever i touched a life i hope that life knows / that i know that touching was and still is and will always / be the true / revolution.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "When I Die," My House ()
  • There're two people in the world that are not likeable: a master and a slave.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • with James Baldwin, A Dialogue ()
  • I think one of the nicest things that we created as a generation was just the fact that we could say, Hey, I don't like white people.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • with James Baldwin, A Dialogue ()
  • ... art is not for the cultivated taste. It is to cultivate a taste.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • in Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker, A Poetic Equation ()
  • most of us love from our need to love not / because we find someone deserving.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "The Women Gather," The Women and the Men ()
  • i hope i die / warmed by the life / i tried to live.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "The Life I Led," The Women and the Men ()
  • I am cotton candy on a rainy day / the unrealized dream of an idea unborn.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • title poem, Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day ()
  • ... the unwillingess to try / is worse than any failure.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Age," Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day ()
  • ... I too am an astronaut / having applied for my own space ...

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Age," Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day ()
  • We love because it's the only true adventure.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Love: Is a Human Condition," Those Who Ride the Night Winds ()
  • Poetry is the most mistaught subject in any school because we teach poetry by form and not by content.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • Mediocrity is safe.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • I resent people who say writers write from experience. Writers don't write from experience, though many are hesitant to admit that they don't. I want to be clear about this. If you wrote from experience, you'd get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • Writers ... I think ... live on that fine line between insanity and genius ...

  • Life is a marvelous, transitory adventure.

  • Fanatics are, for one thing, boring and, for another, unreliable. They tend to burn out just when you need them.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • in Mari Evans, ed., Black Women Writers (1950-1980) ()
  • Rage is to writers what water is to fish.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "In Sympathy With Another Motherless Child," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • I think speeches and fruit should always be fresh.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "In Sympathy With Another Motherless Child," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • I don't have a life-style, I have a life.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "An Answer to Some Questions on How I Write," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • Violence is like money in the bank; it's only helpful if you don't have to use it.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "About a Poem," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • But nonviolence was never for the oppressor; it was for the oppressed.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "About a Poem," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • All systems require myths for their longevity.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "The Spiritual: Evolution of a Plaintive Message," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • Baseball is already the world's most tranquil sport. It is probably the only active sport where you are not seriously required to be alive to play.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "A Patriotic Plea for Poetry Justice," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • And like an unfaithful mate, once a car has let you down you never sort of trust it again.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • title essay, Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • Being Black and poor is, I think, radically different from being anything else and poor. Poor, to most Blacks, is a state of mind. Those who accept it are poor; those who struggle are middle class.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • title essay, Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • Sacred cows make very poor gladiators.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • title essay, Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • God knows it's a sign of a really sick mind to see grown people, adults with responsibilities, wearing class rings.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Pioneers: A View of Home," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • ... you know a person is having a severe personality crisis if you see a high school class ring on a finger beyond the first semester in college. Male or female. It's a big sign saying nothing has mattered to my life since senior year.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Pioneers: A View of Home," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • You must be unintimidated by your own thoughts ...

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • in Virginia C. Fowler, Conversations With Nikki Giovanni ()
  • Deal with yourself as an individual worthy of respect, and make everyone else deal with you the same way.

  • While I don't ask you to save the world, I do ask you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary, and remove from your life those who offer you despair and disrespect ...

  • ... the ability to take pride in your own work is one of the hallmarks of sanity. Take away the ability to both work and be proud of it and you can drive anyone insane.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • in Gloria Wade-Gayles, ed., My Soul Is a Witness ()
  • I am a huge fan of the Black woman. I never hesitate to recommend her when times are bad or things go wrong.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Even Now, Hooray for the Black Woman," in Daryl Cumber Dance, ed., Honey, Hush ()
  • We are all more than our experiences / And less than our dreams.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "I Am Glass," Bicycles: Love Poems ()
  • America may not be the best nation on earth, but it has conceived loftier ideals and dreamed higher dreams than any other nation. America is a heterogeneous nation of many different people of different races, religions, and creeds. Should this experiment go forth and prosper, we will have offered humans a new way to look at life; should it fail, we will simply go the way of all failed civilizations.

    • Nikki Giovanni
  • You're only as good as your last book.

    • Nikki Giovanni
  • Black poetry is not for Black People ... it is for everybody.

    • Nikki Giovanni
  • ... neither of them ever / said what they meant / and i guess nobody ever does.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "When I Die," My House ()
  • Childhood remembrances are always a drag / if you're Black.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Nikki-Rosa," Black Judgement ()
  • I just wanta say just gotta say something / bout those beautiful beautiful beautiful outasight / black men / with they afros / walking down they street / is the same ol danger / but a brand new pleasure.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Beautiful Black Men," Black Judgement ()
  • You must invent your own games and teach us old ones how to play.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "poems for black boys (with special love to james)," The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni ()

Nikki Giovanni, U.S. poet, writer, commentator, educator, activist

(1943)

Full name: Yolande Cornelia Giovanni, Jr.