Nikki Giovanni —
Soul Food, Sex, and Space

In the 1960s, Nikki Giovanni was a revolutionary poet of the Black Arts Movement that nourished civil rights. She had a famous dialogue with James Baldwin in Paris in 1971. Now a professor at Virginia Tech, she brought beauty and courage by way of poetry after the shooting there. Today, she is a self-proclaimed space freak and a delighted elder — an adored voice to hip-hop artists and the new forms of social change this generation is creating.

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is a Distinguished Professor in the English department at Virginia Tech. She has written and edited numerous books of poetry and works for children, including Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, Black Feeling, Black Talk, Black Judgment, and The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni. Her latest work is Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid.

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Nikki Giovanni attends an event celebrating Toni Morrison at the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University.

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Your conversation with Ms. Giovanni was mind expanding for me. Krista, I was very impressed with your interviewing skills, you really tied things together well.
As a college student in my late middle age, this conversation helped me with an assignment for an upcoming class. Since my study is Social Work, we talk a lot about poverty, but mostly about financial poverty. As Ms. Giovanni alluded to, it seems that a life that looks bad from the outside is not always as bad as we think. Resilience and connection can make a lot of good out of poor conditions.

Who is Ms Tippet quoting here: “the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the earth and space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life..."? Beautiful words. One doesn't have to go to space to know it, but so few of us pause long enough to realise this truth. Loved listening to Ms Giovanni! Wow.

What a joy to be able to hear this wonderful interview of a favorite poet. Her poetry always resonates with my students as well. Her comment about having a hard childhood and being happy was such a profound statement. Thank you.

Fabulous interview, fabulous Nikki
Being a teacher for 42 years, I always read her poems to my students in NYC, but also Greenwich, Ct.
Where can I find the poem she read today about growing old? ..the veins on my legs are .....
Thank you Krista.We listen to you every Sunday.

thank you thank you thank you!!! This was a fabulous show and I can't wait to find those poems she read on the air. I didn't know much about Ms. Giovanni but now I LOVE HER!!!

I have a new hero! What a wonderful woman. As someone who is struggling with ageing I so appreciate her perspective and her candor. I loved her perspective on the space program (did not know they were Appalachians)! I am going to spend the next food weeks checking out her tips on food (especially Vietnamese chicken soup). Don't know about Antarctica - Im not an Appalachian - but I do love penguins!
Thank you Krista for consistently providing nourishment for my soul. Your show is my Sunday morning ritual and sets my day and week on the right path.

You can tell when a soul is joyful. What a remarkable, inspiring woman! Her poetry is palpable reality.

#NoRACEforHumankind (@FB) Thoroughly enjoyed and enlightened from Krista's interview with Nikki Giovanni!

What an AWESOME interview with Ms. Giovanni and it was incredibly moving! I could feel her spirit so immensely through the sound of her voice, energy, words and thoughts. Krista, I LOVE listening every Sunday to the full program before departing for church service and nearly every interview provides inspiration, insight and sets me in a calm and peaceful mindset. Thank you for your heart and compassionate interviewing skills! When I shared my feelings with a sister-friend at church I was moved to tears and chills upon reflecting on your conversation. Thank you!!

What extraordinary and ordinary calls, into being and doing as fully human, which reaches out from this writing...

Your program is a Temple.

What a wonderful guest and interesting interview. Miss Giovanni was a pleasure to listen to in both a literary sense and simply the sound of her voice as well. I have lived a turbulent life and am the product of broken household and family. This was an uplifting, informative, serious yet funny approach on serious matters in life and how we as individuals perceive them. I am not black nor do I know or understand that struggle. But I have had a checkered past with lost opportunities and wasted time that can mostly be contributed to my past abuse of alcohol and drugs. I needed to here this piece!

I listened to this interview the day after the terrorist attacks in Brussels, coming very soon after the attacks here in Paris. Ms. Giovanni's Virginia Tech poem is once again relevant and resonant. Thank you for these words to express our grief and our resilience.

Found her Poetry in '79 in my college library! Life changing to me! Never forgot her and great to see she is so ALIVE!!!

I heard this interview when it aired, and now, today when the gravity maps of Mars are "news", there are many naysayers, complaining of the cost and saying it is a waste of time. I have merely quoted Ms. Giovanni, and linked to this interview. Enough said.

This is by far one of my favorite NPR shows. I have never, ever been disappointed. I often hear it on the way home from a 12 hour overnight shift dealing with death and mayhem (9-1-1) and it is the antidote. Thank you.

Thank you Mrs. Giovanni and Mrs. Tippett: sometimes a person speaks their mind and soul so real that my soul and mind lose track of where conversation changes to poetry and back again. Like a rocket through the atmosphere when the clouds fade into sky fade into light fade into dark.

Thanks for the beautiful work you do, Krista. I loved hearing Nikki Giovanni's voice and her thoughts. Once again, your show is inspiration for a sermon I'm working on. The ideas Nikki shared about figuring out what we have to offer to be of some service to human beings and also making up your mind about what you are going to love are both going to figure into my upcoming sermon about Jesus' post-resurrection meeting with Peter.

Nikki IS a revolutionary poet,
a LIVING LEGEND and freedom fighter. Our "civil rights" are still being actualized so her legacy is uber important. She continues to inspire and empower many generations with her words of wisdom and cultural commentary on current events. I admire her wit, love her smile and I learn from her deep commitment to educating the masses. When it comes to inclusion and diversity her stellar style is unprecedented. Her life is a work of art. I'm just waiting for her to get her own national holiday! What's up?!? Bless Up!
-Susana Pablo, also known as SpizzDaPoet(r)ess aka DJ Spizz Nice nka DJ spZa! ⭐️ straight out of Dorchester, MA. Yep! PEACE - positive energy always creates elevation. The struggle for social justice continues; we live it, write it and fight for it everyday. #BecauseOfHERWeCan Si Se Puede!

Oh, wow, do I want to hop in a spaceship with her and a bottle of savignon blanc and enjoy her cackle and candor and grace all the way to Mars. This interview is so alive. And the uncut version...always the uncut version...Krista, thank you, always thank you. I also love reading the comments, and this interview will be shared with my students of all ages-- from 7th grade personal essayists and on up-- because nothing need stand between you and your dream of the stars, the real stars, the real dreams. Because the stars are right where we put them. With heart,

The Orchid


the container



loose bark



at 9.99



before a window



each week



of leaves

a trunk


in time lapse

ninety degrees

into the light

a new stalk

a new cluster

of buds

one by one


across the night





as if monks turned

to face walls

as if children

given paint


in the pink

in the warming

in the burning

in the G-type main-sequence


I really enjoyed Nikki’s views on current modern topics such as the shootings in Paris and the mass shooting at Virginia Tech. She explained that she was going to get a tattoo of “Hokies don’t hate” as well standing up for Muslims after the attacks in Paris. I feel as though she represents what we should be instead the hate mongering we have now. Although she is much older than I am I feel as if she has a views from much younger generation. I also enjoy the window she gave into her life an as young lady and how it explains her fascination ion with space she has today. What I found to be the best part of Nikki was the way she spoke, her no filter way of speaking kind of just made me laugh and enjoy the broadcast.

I loved this interview with Nikki Giovanni. She is amazingly candid and her enthusiasm for life just jumped through the speakers and made me smile! When she mentioned she has a "Thug Life" tattoo on her arm, I was immediately intrigued by this 72 year old poet. I love her take on life and she spoke in a way that made me have hope for our future. Her words were inspiring and thought-provoking. Thank you for this captivating interview, Krista!

This was a beautiful podcast. Thanks for sharing!