NIKKI GIOVANNI Biography - Famous Poets and dancers


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NIKKI GIOVANNI was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Lincoln Heights,         
an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She and her sister spent their summers         
with their grandparents in Knoxville, and she graduated with honors from Fisk           
University, her grandfather's alma mater, 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           
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."                                                 
Many of Giovanni's books have received honors and awards. Her autobiography,             
Gemini, was a finalist for the National Book Award; Love Poems, Blues: For All           
the Changes, and Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea were all honored with NAACP Image           
Awards. Blues: For All the Changes reached #4 on the Los Angeles Times                   
Bestseller list, a rare achievement for a book of poems. Most recently, her             
children's picture book Rosa, about the civil rights legend Rosa Parks, became a         
Caldecott Honors Book, and Bryan Collier, the illustrator, was given the Coretta         
Scott King award for best illustration. Rosa also reached #3 on The New York             
Times Bestseller list.                                                                   
Giovanni's spoken word recordings have also achieved widespread recognition and         
honors. Her album Truth Is On Its Way, on which she reads her poetry against a           
background of gospel music, was a top 100 album and received the Best Spoken             
Word Album given by the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers.         
Her Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, on which she reads and talks about her             
poetry, was one of five finalists for a Grammy Award.                                   
Giovanni's honors and awards have been steady and plentiful throughout her               
career. The recipient of some twenty-five 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. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and           
has received Life Membership and Scroll from The National Council of Negro Women.       
A member of PEN, she was honored for her life and career by The History Makers.         
She has received the keys to more than two dozen cities. A scientist who admires         
her work even named a new species of bat he discovered for her!                         
The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Nikki Giovanni is a           
University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.