Phillips Academy will welcome acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni to campus tonight for her presentation, “The Space of Poetry is Our Rocket to the Future.”
Giovanni’s presentation will cover the relationship between historical and modern perceptions of poetry and how these perceptions influence humanity’s discovery of new words, new people and new identity.
According to Giovanni, perspectives are one of the key elements that distinguish people from one another.
Prior to her presentation, Giovanni will join Adam Levine, Teaching Fellow in English, and his English class.
Giovanni will also have dinner with English Department faculty in Paresky Commons.
The Ullman Fund, established by Leo Ullman ’57, sponsored Giovanni’s visit to campus.
With the fiscal assistance from the Ullman Fund, Linda Griffith, Dean of CAMD, spearheaded efforts to bring Giovanni to campus.
According to Griffith, the school has wanted to bring Giovanni to campus for years.
Griffith said, “She is an incredible woman, poet, activist, and educator. I don’t really say this to a lot of poets, but her poems, writings and life are just amazing.”
“While most poets enjoy writing about abstractive topics, Giovanni’s poems are very simple and suit well for all audiences,” said Griffith. “Some of her poems deal with [light topics] such as becoming a mother, eating ice cream and friendship. Others focus on serious topics such as assassination of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. I feel like she is speaking to the world.”
Griffith added, “I hope Phillips Academy students will gain a lot from this event. I am sure Nikki Giovanni will give an educational speech and I guarantee that you will regret missing it.”
Shun Sakai ’13 said, “I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend Giovanni’s presentation. Although I am not thoroughly acquainted with her complete works, my English class covered some of her poems.”
“Her colloquial tone makes her poetry easy to approach and understand, yet she manages to convey complex emotions with the intensity of her language,” Sakai continued.
Giovanni has served as a professor at Virginia Tech since 1987.
She has written more than two dozen books, including volumes of poetry, illustrated children’s books, and three collections of essays.
Many of Giovanni’s works are inspired by African American activists including Tupac Shakur, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
Among Giovanni’s many achievements include a nomination for Best Spoken Album at the Grammy Awards in 2004 for her album, “The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection.”
In addition, Giovanni created an inaugural poem for President Barck Obama at the request of the National Public Radio, which she read at the Lincoln Memorial as the part of the bicentennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday in February 2009.