Nikki Giovanni and Her Poetry - National Council of Teachers of English
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Nikki Giovanni and Her Poetry

Nikki Giovanni celebrates her birthday on June 7. Nikki Giovanni is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. One of the world’s most well-known African American poets, her work includes poetry anthologies, poetry recordings, and nonfiction essays and covers topics ranging from race and social issues to children’s literature.

Nikki Giovanni has won numerous awards, including the Langston Hughes Medal and the NAACP Image Award. She has been nominated for a Grammy Award; she was also named as one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 Living Legends.

Nikki Giovanni in the Classroom: “The same ol’ danger but a brand new pleasure.” This resource from NCTE features primary source materials, including many of Giovanni’s poems reprinted in full, plus easily adaptable lessons and activities, and a resource section for students and teachers wishing to study Giovanni further.

Nikki Giovanni spoke as part of the National Book Festival in 2021 with the Library of Congress. She discussed a recent collection, “Make Me Rain: Poems & Prose,” with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

An example of using Giovanni’s work can be found in the the lesson plan “Childhood Remembrances: Life and Art Intersect in Nikki Giovanni’s ‘Nikki-Rosa’.” In her poem “Nikki-Rosa,” Nikki Giovanni describes specific moments from her childhood. How can you turn your childhood events into a poem?


Curious about the NCTE and Library of Congress connection? Through a grant announced by NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick, NCTE is engaged in ongoing work with the Library of Congress, and “will connect the ELA community with the Library of Congress to expand the use of primary sources in teaching.” Stay tuned for more throughout the year!

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