Favorite Nikki works

July 6, 2006

What are your favorite Nikki Giovanni works, whether it be her poetry, music, or commentary. Share.

Taking a cue from Fran my first recognition was at an early age, albeit there was a necessary reintroduction at this point in my life. It had to be about when I was 10 when my mother gave me a copy of Ego Tripping. At that point, as young boys do, I said thank you, looked over it, and set it to the side.

Moving to the present, I was given the opportunity to work with Fran and upon hearing the project I would work on I gave the “Damn i know the name and can’t place why” face. From there i was promptly reintroduced by Fran via Nikki’s opinion on our current President.

Comment with your first experience with Nikki G.

From the Producer Fran Harris:

“. . .and I hope no white person ever has cause to write about me ’cause they never understand Black love is Black wealth. And they’ll probably talk about my hard childhood and never understand that all the while, I was quite happy.” – Nikki Giovanni, from Nikki-Rosa

I was six years old when i heard those words piping out of my brother’s record player. I heard it no less than four times a week in my house growing up in Dallas, Texas. She was the first person I’d heard “rap” under music. “Nikki Rosa” was recited under a gospel track, which explains why it also got play in my house on Sunday mornings as well.

In 2000, my sister sent me a scratchy, self-recorded cassette dub of the album “Truth Is On Its Way”, Nikki’s first album with the New York Community Choir. A week later I searched the Internet and found several of her CDs from back in the day. I swiftly ordered them and when they arrived I was so moved by hearing these recordings again that I could hardly sit still. I couldn’t sleep. Something had awakened inside me.

Amazingly, I still knew every single word to every single track even though I hadn’t heard the album in over 20 years. Every single word.

I’d recently started my own production company and decided that in my directorial debut that I’d do something with “Nikki”. I didn’t know what it would be but I knew it would change lives. That’s the kind of impact Nikki Giovanni has on you.

Two weeks and 20 auditions later, I was ready to stage my production, “A Night With Nikki”, based on some of Nikki’s writing from the ’70s. Three black women and three white women would comprise my jewel ensemble cast.

For thre weekends straight we played to a packed coffeehouse of men and women of all ages, races and backgrounds. Three months later, Nikki would speak at my alma mater and the seed would be planted for this documentary.

In her campus speech she would say something that proved prophetic, “When Fran asked me for permission to reprise my work in stage form, I said yes, because I’ve found that it’s generally a good idea to say yes more than no.”

During the first week of September 2003, with my heart pounding like I’d run a marathon, I called Virginia Tech University and left a message on Nikki’s voice-mail, asking her if she’d be willing to work with me on a documentary about her life. Within hours she called back enthusiastically. “Hey Fran, this is Nikki Giovanni. Yeah, I’d love to hear your ideas for doing a documentary . . .”

And here we are . .

Introduction

June 25, 2006

To introduce the new site we’re posting one of Nikki’s most popular poems, Ego Trippin’

I was born in the Congo

I walked to the fertile crescent and built the Sphinx

I designed a pyramid so tough that a star

that glows every one hundred years falls into

the center giving divine perfect light

I AM BAD

I sat on the throne

drinking nectar with Allah

I got hot and sent an ice age to Europe

to cool my thirst.

My oldest daughter is Nefertiti

the tears from by birth pains created the Nile

I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on a forest and burned out the

Sahara Desert

With a packet of goat’s meat

and a change of clothes-

I crossed it in two hours

I am a gazelle so swift-

so swift- you can’t catch me

For a birthday present when he was three

I gave my son Hannibal an elephant-

He gave me Rome for Mother’s Day

My strength flows ever on

My son Noah built new/ark and

I stood proudly at the helm

as we sailed on a soft summer day

I turned myself into myself-

and was Jesus!

men intone my loving name

All praises- All praises

I am one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my backyard

My bowels deliver uranium

the filings from my fingernails

are semi-precious jewels

On a trip north I caught a cold and blew my nose

giving oil to the Arab world

I am so hip- even my errors are correct

I sailed east to reach west- and had to round off the

earth as I went

The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid

across three continents

I am so perfect, so divine, so ethereal, so surreal

I cannot be comprehended

except by my permission

I mean … I … can fly

like a bird in the sky..
Nikki Giovanni can fly