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February 9, 2009

Nikki Giovanni Treats Full House to Poems and Personality

Black History Month Celebration at St. Francis College

St. Francis College's Founder Hall was not big enough to hold everyone who wanted to see Poet Nikki Giovanni deliver a rapid fire lecture of cultural quips, stories and, of course, the poems she is so well known for as part of the College's Black History Month celebrations, Monday, February 9. Several dozen people watched Giovanni on a simulcast in the adjacent Callahan Center.

Giovanni sprinkled about a half dozen poems between her energetically delivered anecdotes and commentaries. She talked about Martin Luther King, Jr.; saying that if he was around today, because he was cool, he would have a tattoo and his hair in braids. She complemented her reading of The Rosa Parks with a few dance steps and diverged from popular historical figures to popular cultures, reading a poem about Deal or No Deal and offering a very adult critical reading of The Donna Reed Show and My Three Sons.

But some of Giovanni's most spirited comments were saved for the question and answer session when talking about our new President Barack Obama. Giovanni said that if she were to write a poem about an Obama it would be Michelle, because her imprint on society is already established while it will take years to assess Barack and whether he can make the transition from a man of ideas on the campaign trail to a politician who can see them through.

"To see and hear Nikki Giovanni read her poems was incredibly special," said St. Francis College Professor Wendy Galgan, a lecturer in the English Department. "My students have studied her 'on the page,' but it was a true education for them to experience Giovanni's work literally in her own voice."

Among the other poems Giovanni shared with the audience were, Tennessee By Birth, In the Spirit of Martin, with an underlying theme of having the courage of your convictions to be punished for doing what is right and trying to change the world and one of her most popular poems, Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why), which served as an encore for the talk, complete with rising applause as the poem was recognized by the audience.

Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. She has written more than 30 books for adults and children over the past three decades and is one of the most widely-read American poets. She has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony Magazine. Among her most famous works are the poetry collection; Blues: For All the Changes, Love Poems and Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgement.

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City's five boroughs and beyond.
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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