Nikki Giovanni, the world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator, will be featured as the keynote speaker at this fall’s Black Ink, Charleston’s African American book festival. The festival, a program of the Charleston Friends of the Library and a part of the MOJA Arts Festival, will take place on Saturday, October 5 at 2 pm at Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain Street. Admission is free; advance registration required for keynote address. Reserve keynote tickets at http://bit.ly/2Ku2DIY.
One of the most widely read American poets, Giovanni has written more than two dozen books, including volumes of poetry, illustrated children’s books, and three collections of essays. The Academy of American Poets voted Giovanni #1 poet for the spring of 2007. She says she prides herself on being “a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English.”
Giovanni remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the black community. Her focus is on the individual—specifically, the power one has to make a difference in oneself and in the lives of others. Her book Racism 101 includes bold, controversial essays about the situation of Americans on all sides of various race issues. She has received 21 honorary doctorates and a host of other awards, including Woman of the Year titles from three different magazines and the Governors’ Awards in the Arts from both Tennessee and Virginia.
Rosa, her biography of legendary civil rights activist Rosa Parks, won Caldecott Honors and the Coretta Scott King Medal for best illustrated book. Three of her volumes of poetry—Love Poems, Blues: For All the Changes, and Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea—were winners of the NAACP Image Award in 1998, 2000, and 2003. Her 2009 collection, Bicycles: Love Poems, has been called one of her “most powerful offerings to date” by Essence magazine.
Since 1987 Nikki Giovanni has taught writing and literature at Virginia Tech, where she is a distinguished professor. As a devoted and passionate writer, teacher, and speaker, she inspires not only her students but also readers and audiences nationwide. Her album Truth Is on Its Way, in which she reads her poetry against a background of gospel music, was a top 100 album and was named Best Spoken Word Album by the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers. The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, a spoken-word CD, was a finalist for the 2003 Grammy Award in the category of spoken word.
Jeanell Marvin, Director of the Charleston Friends of the Library, said she is thrilled to include Giovanni as part of Black Ink. “She’s one of the most noted poets in America today and an inspiration for many. Whether she’s reading her own works or talking about contemporary issues, Nikki Giovanni has something to say that we all should pay attention to.”
In addition to Giovanni’s keynote address, Black Ink will feature dozens of African American authors, most from the Charleston area. They will display and sell books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, memoir, inspiration, self-help, and titles for children and young adults. While author registration is currently filled, authors are encouraged to sign up for Black Ink at blackinkcharleston.org.