Nicole Sharp

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A woman whose voice I like…

1-1 Have we talked about Nikki Giovanni?  Even if we have, she bears talking about again.  I had no knowledge of her until she came to Boise State University a few years ago and did a free lecture/reading.  From the moment she opened her mouth, I was on the edge of my seat.  She was a siren when she spoke, and I was a stunned Odysseus, hanging on her every melodic word.

I’ve often longed to be a great orator, to be able to stand up and give insightful speeches with a voice that is lyrical and commanding along with a presence that consumes the audience the moment I open my mouth.  I am not, some might argue that I am commanding, but not in the way I would like to be.  I would love to stand before an audience, and slowly, eloquently speak with graceful arm gestures as if I walked around my whole life to the poetic beat of a drum.  The reality is that I might be intriguing, but really, I am funny, sarcastic, and awkward.  I rush through my words with excitement and a booming voice that quivers more often than I would like, and I gesture madly, the impatient Italian genes inside me trying desperately to get out.  I might look cool and calm when talking about something I find passionate, but my insides whirl and twirl in a dance that spill over, leaving no room for the grace I wish to possess.  I’m okay that, it’s who I am.

Still, Nikki Giovanni encompassed all of those attribute that I long for, that I so admire.  She is older, 70 this year, but when I saw her she was maybe 62.  She is small of stature, big of spirit.  While she looks so delicate standing alone on a stage, she radiates life that can fill an entire amphitheater.  Her hair is short, cut close to her head in tight blonde curls.  She spoke with such rhythm and harmony.  She spoke of love and heartbreak, politics and religions, she spoke of music and heart.  She spoke of life and I was transfixed.  She firmly placed herself in my heart even further when she talked of the poetry of today’s rappers, of the art form they had developed out of nothing.  An art form they made all their own, and because of that respect she had for them, on her forearm, she had the phrase ‘thug life’ tattooed.  She stands for her thoughts and ideas, happily.  I love that.30166

Nikki Giovanni was part of the Black Arts movement in the 60s; she is a professor at Virgina Tech; and she became a good friend of Rosa Parks, whom she wrote a children’s book about called Rosa. Those are just three very small hi-lights of the life that she is leading.

Today she was on my mind and I wanted to re-read a few of her poems, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted to share her with you too.  Enjoy!

I Wrote A Good Omelet by Nikki Giovanni

I wrote a good omelet…and ate a hot poem…

after loving you

Buttoned my car…and drove my coat home…in the rain…

after loving you

I goed on red…and stopped on green….floating somewhere in between…

being here and being there…

after loving you

I rolled my bed…turned down my hair…slightly

confused but…I don’t care…

Laid out my teeth…and gargled my gown…then I stood

…and laid me down…

to sleep…

after loving you

Poem For A Lady Whose Voice I Like By Nikki Giovanni

so he said: you ain’t got no talent

if you didn’t have a face

you wouldn’t be nobody

and she said: god created heaven and earth

and all that’s Black within them

so he said: you ain’t really no hot shit

they tell me plenty sisters

take care better business than you

and she said: on the third day he made chitterlings

and all good things to eat

and said: “that’s good”

so he said: if the white folks hadn’t been under

yo skirt and been giving you the big play

you’d a had to come on uptown like everybody else

and she replied: then he took a big Black greasy rib

from adam and said we will call this woeman and her

name will he sapphire and she will divide into four parts

that simone may sing a song

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

1 Comment

  1. I would love to hear this dynamic woman someday, I will definitely check her out on Youtube.
    Reading about her made me immediately think about my good friend Terri N. who is also a poet.
    Thank you for keeping me inspired, I love you for that and for countless other reasons.
    Love, Mom

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