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Chasing Utopia with Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. She has spent decades writing, lecturing, and speaking out. She is one of the US’s most widely read poets and prides herself on being “a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English.”

Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated with honors from Fisk University in 1968 and then went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. Her first book of poetry was entitled Black Feeling Black Talk and early in her career earned the moniker, the “Princess of Black Poetry,” and over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing she has come to be called both a “National Treasure” and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey’s twenty-five “Living Legends.”

Nikki Giovanni’s autobiography, Gemini, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her books Love Poems, Blues: For All the Changes, Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, Acolytes, and Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat all won NAACP Image Awards.

Giovanni’s children’s picture book Rosa, about her friend and the civil rights legend Rosa Parks, became a Caldecott Honors Book and a New York Times Bestseller.

She has received 25 honorary degrees and received the keys to more than two dozen cities. She has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony Magazine. 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.

Nikki Giovanni has written 30 books for both adults and children and is currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Nikki Giovanni’s latest book is called Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid.