Born Yolande Cornelia Giovanni Jr. in Knoxville, TN, daughter of a probation officer and a social worker, Giovanni graduated with honors from Fisk University in 1967. She attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work and Columbia School of the Arts, was assistant professor of black studies at Queens College (1968), and associate professor of English at Rutgers University (1968-1970).

Giovanni's early work reflected her social activism as an African American college student in the 1960s, while her later works focused on the individual struggle for fulfillment rather than the collective struggle for black empowerment. 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. A scientist who admires her work even named a new species of bat he discovered for her!

Giovanni is committed to the fight for civil rights and equality. 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, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others.
Nikki Giovanni
Selected writings by NIKKI GIOVANNI

Winter poem
Being and nothingness
Make up
I wrote a good omelet