Cumberland University


Giovanni to Visit CU for Poetry Reading

World-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator Nikki Giovanni will visit Cumberland University for a special poetry reading on Tuesday, Nov. 20 from 12:30 until 1:30 p.m. in the June & Bill Heydel Fine Arts Center.

One of the most widely read poets in America, Giovanni will share her witty and romantic poems from 1997's "Love Poems" as well as other poems from her celebrated career. The Nov. 20 event is free and open to the public.

"We are so fortunate to have one of the most prolific figures in American poetry visit our campus," Cumberland University Assistant Professor of English Dr. Michael Rex said. "Nikki Giovanni is truly a national treasure."

Giovanni was born in Knoxville and grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati. She and her sister spent their summers with their grandparents in Knoxville, and she graduated with honors from Fisk University in 1968. After graduating from Fisk, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry, "Black Feeling Black Talk," in 1968, and within the next year published a second book, thus launching her career as a writer. Early in her career, she was dubbed the "Princess of Black Poetry," and was recently named one of Oprah Winfrey's 25 "Living Legends." Her recent works, "Rosa" and "Blues: For All the Changes," appeared on the best sellers lists of both the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

Giovanni's honors and awards have been steady and plentiful throughout her career. The recipient of some 25 honorary degrees, she has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal and Ebony Magazine. She was tapped for the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame and named an Outstanding Woman of Tennessee. Giovanni has also received Governor's Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia. She was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and she has also been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry.

The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.