Talk:Nikki Giovanni

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Most recent undo[edit]

I referenced an article printed in the Cincinnati Enquirer and tried to write my entry in a neutral but informative manner. Why undo a factual event in her life? She continues to show her bigotry by using speaking engagements as an opportunity to voice her personal opinions about issues and people. This should be included as important information about her so as to better inform people and help them make e their own conclusions about the importance of her work. With every speech she becomes less relevant. Whether you agree or not is irrelevant. I was not doing original research since numerous articles were written regarding her most recent public rant which was done without the organizer's prior knowledge. Just reporting the facts. If you wanted to edit it to try and "neutralize" the tone a bit more then fine, but don't censor factual information. Her antisocial behavior is becoming more and more relevant in regards to her respectability. Since it appears that she relishes controversy then maybe a new section should be started containing the controversies she has decided to embroil herself in. See the David Duke biography page. There's a section just for controversies. J4m3z2 19:54, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

You may want to see Wikipedia:Coatrack. Wikipedia isn't a forum for criticizing people. The article should not contain a catalog of everything she has done that you find disagreeable because then it gives undue weight to those aspects of her life. --BigDT 20:22, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
I agree with BigDT and repeat what I said in the edit summary of my revert; the statement in question is a violation of WP:BLP. From the tone of your comment, you may be too invested in this subject to make an NPOV edit. María (habla conmigo) 22:02, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

I think her public behavior is relevant to her legacy. If you're going to include a story with a positive slant about her convocation poem/speech after the VT tragedy, then include the negative story about her poem/outburst at the Fountain Square dedication ceremony. Is wikipedia here to promote only warm and fuzzy feelings about its subject matter? Do I think that her behavior was despicable? Any reasonable person should and would. But what's at issue here is your censorship of a factual story printed in a well-respected newspaper - not the op-ed section either - that reflects negatively on her. My feelings on the matter don't enter into the validity of the story and its inclusion in her widipedia biography page. As has already been established on other pages, negative or controversial reports can be and are included on biography pages. In light of Ms. Giovanni's work for civil rights she holds herself up to increased scrutiny when she displays her own intolerance so publicly. She has set out to hijack forums and events that she was invited to recite poems at, but the organizers were not prepared for her ambush of good taste and decorum. For this she should be held accountable, my personal opinions notwithstanding. If nothing else, small mention should be made of the controversy surrounding her unwelcome public rants with links to the factual stories giving the details and response of the organizers and audience. Then people could decide for themselves whether Ms. Giovanni's efforts merit acclaim. If you choose to ignore the controversial aspects of her public behavior then you do the reader a disservice. J4m3z2 14:51, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

The Virginia Tech poem[edit]

Please don't include whole poems in an article. If it's copyrighted, it's a copyright violation. If it isn't, it should go to Wikisource. Corvus cornix 23:26, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Unless Ms. Giovanni contacts the Foundation and grants permission you post the poem here, you may not post the complete text here. You may post a small selection, perhaps one stanza or 4 lines, under the Fair Use doctrine. Anything else violates Ms. Giovanni's copyright and will be deleted. Persistent violators will be blocked. Thatcher131 23:53, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Interesting how her poem equated the Virginia Tech Massacre with baby elephants. An explanation of this would be useful. 15:38, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

It's not equating the tragedy, itself, with baby elephants. It's equating the feeling of devastation that everyone is experiencing with the feeling of devastation that a baby elephant must experience "watching his community be devastated [elephants being killed] for ivory." It doesn't need an explanation, or a source; it's all a matter of correct interpretation. María (habla conmigo) 15:42, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
The quotation must certain include Giovanni's references to other tragedies, otherwise one may infer that Giovanni spoke only of the victims of the massacre. Point one, is that Giovanni brought up other issues and did not concentrate on the victims themelves. The reference to elephant poaching is also significant, since it's not a human tragedy. Fair use may include quotations 'for illustration or clarification of the author's observations.' Without these poem lines included in the poem, the author's observations would not be clear. They are a significant part of the poem and should be included. Netziv 01:37, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Are we certain that elephants feel the same kind of devastation that humans feel?

Seems to me that she was abusing the convocation ceremony to push other issues.

Please remember that opinions do not belong on Wikipedia unless they can be properly cited by a reliable source (WP:OR). Please also keep discussion on this page strictly about how to improve the article, and not on personal interpretation. María (habla conmigo) 17:16, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

I am trying to improve the article by describing the facts about Giovanni's speech, but you instead seem to want to suppress them. I'm not trying to be rude, just trying to improve the article.

I would like to add a few stanzas of the poem under "Fair Use" that are representative of the poem's message, but the article is locked now.

Netziv, you are attempting to engage in original research. Wikipedia editors report what has been published about a topic on other nontrivial reliable sources. Your analysis of the poem might get a good grade in an English Lit class, it's not appropriate for Wikipedia. If other nontrivial reliable sources (i.e. newspapers, magazines, and not blogs) have analyzed the poem's content and commented on it, you can report that commentary. You can not analze the poem yourself. Thatcher131 01:41, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
I have not attempted to include any analyis in this Wikipedia entry. I have just explained why the truncated quotation of the poem is insufficient. The poem as quoted now, does not include any part of the largest paragraph. Again, no analysis was included in the article at all. Please explain why a more representative quotation of the poem is inappropiate or falls outside of fair use.

As far as I know, it fails the fair use because it can be copyrighted, and because the author is alive... and also i think because the author hasn't given explicit permission to publish. Also, this is a bio article, so the poems themselves do not constitute part of the biography... oohh and also, PLEASE sign your posts in talk pages(that's part of the reason that the article is semi-protected, to avoid anon edits, although i do not agree with the semi-protection) --Legion fi 05:58, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
You haven't addressed why it's not fair use. You've addressed why it's copyrighted! (Whether the author is alive is irrelevant.) How does a slighter larger quote meet the four factors of Section 107 of the Copyright Act? 1- The character of use is non-profit. 3- The amount of the entire poem that would be quoted is not substantial to the whole. 4- A slightly longer quotation would not effect the market value of the entire poem. You comment that 'poems themselves do not constitute part of the biography'. I do not propose to include the entire poem, just a representative quotation. Certainly, no one has complained that a poem quotation is not part of a biography. Why not a more representative quotation? Netziv 11:17, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
One of the key factors in fair use is proportionality. That's always going to be a judgement call and I don't even think that case law has a bright line definition. I don't remember how long the original poem was but would keeping it under 25% work? Thatcher131 14:21, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes. The orginal poem had 258 words, we can quote a representative sample with 50 words or less.Netziv 11:37, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
Revised previous full passage down per your notes about Fair Use. (talk) 19:23, 1 August 2008 (UTC)Just MC

correction suggestion[edit]

In the post announcing Nikki Giovanni's poem read today at Virginia Tech you write

'Convocation remembering the Virginia Tech massacre on April 17, 2007.'

This is confusing. The massacre occurred on April 16, the Convocation occurred today, April 17.

Thank you for posting her peom. It was terrific.

jwh —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jwheintz (talkcontribs) 23:40, 17 April 2007 (UTC).

Italian surname[edit]

Does she have a parent or grandparent who is Italian?

Sexual Orientation[edit]

While Giovanni's interest in space travel is fascinating, I would also like to know her sexual orientation, as it seems to inform both her writing and her activism. Any sources? MJFiorello 12:15, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

I've fixed all of the fact tags, read through a dozen sources, and I can't seem to find anything on her sexual orientation; all that seems to be available is info about her work on sexuality, of which there is quite a lot. I'll keep looking, though. María (habla conmigo) 15:43, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry, MJF, but what you want to know is not relevant. Wikipedia is not a gossip site. If you can find a reliable source that discusses the importance of her sexuality top her work, you can report what that source says. (book review, literary journal article, etc. no blogs or personal opinion, and no original research.) Thatcher131 02:24, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
I am going to have to agree with the anon user below (please sign your posts in talk pages, so I can at least have an IP to agree with). Thatcher, please do not just post to try to brag about you knowing the wiki rules. Both MJFiorello and Yilosubmarine said that they were interested in her sexuality and that they were going to investigate it trough SOURCES. And a person sexuality is relevant, no one talked about a specific orientation, so it is not a gossip. This is a talk page, wikipedians CAN discuss here what to include in the article before posting it.--Legion fi 05:00, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
I don't think that Thatcher131 has a firm grasp on what Original Research refers too, nor the point of these discussion pages for editors. Hopefully he/she will take your excellent post to heart! 21:25, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
In a recent interview with Bill Moyers, she said, "And I think that we have to look at I love you, which is enhancing to me. I learned a long time ago, because I just fell madly in love, and I don't mind saying this, his wife knows it, with Billy Dee Williams. Billy is so good looking. If I was 40 years younger I'd be in love with Barack Obama. But I realized that it had nothing to do with Billy Dee. And I remember meeting him. And I said, you know, "Your wife's going to kill me." He said, "She don't care." But being in love has nothing to do with how the person feels about you. It has to do with how you feel about yourself." This isn't proof of anything, and isn't good enough evidence to write anything in the article, but at least it shows those who are curious that she is (at least) attracted to men.mmortal03 (talk) 13:05, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
Yllosubmarine, you might find the reference in this article apropos. Here's a second, independent source. -- Heath (talk) 12:17, 30 April 2010 (UTC)


From some readings I've found she has a bit of a fanatical racist side. It seems she calls Eminem a racist because he uses "what blacks invented" to make money, etc. The same old angry person; sad considering she sees herself as an artist!? It is funny that she also appears to be mixed, maybe all the more reason why she goes overboard with the black-power nonsense. Perhaps this should be referenced [1]. 00:32, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Please do not use this talk page as a forum. Your baseless claims and speculations do not belong here as this is a place where users are to discuss the article and not the individual it is based on. María (habla conmigo) 21:53, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
I am not using this as a forum, I'm bringing up the subject of her being a racist before adding anything to the actual article. Where are my "baseless" claims? I cited a reference that describes what she has said regarding Eminem, etc., etc. Also, given her surname Giovanni and skin tone, it is not baseless to surmise she is mixed. What I think you need to do is assume good faith, and not attack users at a personal basis as you have just done. Saying "Your baseless claims and speculation" is a personal attack. Being a little bit more WP:CIVIL when you first talk with someone here is never a bad move either.. 00:32, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

"Your baseless claims and speculations do not belong here as this is a place where users are to discuss the article and not the individual it is based on. " - the article is the individual 22:17, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

No, the article is based on the individual. Particulars aside, I do not believe that my remarks constitute as a personal attack, but I do apologize for not appearing civil. That said, the baseless claims and speculations are just that; unsourced and OR, and do not add to the encyclopedic value of the article. The phrases "same old angry person" and "black-power nonsense" lead me to believe that the above comment wasn't intended as a critique of the article, or serious suggestions on ways to improve it, but as an off topic comment better suited to a forum. As for the "source" written by a college student, I'm afraid that can't exactly be called a reliable source. María (habla conmigo) 23:12, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
Seriously now, are you a Talk page monitor? I do not care for racism, so I brought out a bit of my opinion on the matter, but it isn't really your job to go and pick through what other editors say on the talk page. If you feel the need to look for useless comments on Wikipedia talk pages, I think you'll find much more blatant cases elsewhere. I believe the article can be improved by including criticisms of Giovanni; her often racist and angry tone does make her easily perceived to be somewhat hypocritical. I was a bit disappointed that she was used to give a speech at the VT convocation, after some things she has said in the past that do indeed incite hatred. Oh dear, more personal opinions. Regardless, I will look for more reliable sources, though the commentary by the Duke student is not so unreliable... ps. That person above was not me. 00:32, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
This is really terribly inappropriate. You are attempting to engage in original research. Wikipedia only reports things that have been published in reliable sources such as magazines and newspapers (not blogs or personal opinion). If you can find reliable sources that discuss racism on Ms. Giovanni's part you can report what those sources have to say, subject to editorial judgement and consensus of your fellow editors. Thatcher131 02:22, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
Oh get off your high horse. The user explicitly stated they were going to look for a reliable source. India Currents is neither a blog nor personal opinion -- it is an online magazine! There has been nothing posted on the article yet either, it is a discussion. Go and needlessly lambaste others... Do you or Maria have nothing better to do than jump on other editors?? Incredible.. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

The article referenced above India Currents does not in any way imply that Giovanni is a racist. It is a sober account( from a distance) of the encounter and the whole lecture experience as perceived by a South Asian person. For the writer, the anger of Mrs. Giovanni is a bit polarizing, but no where does he/she say it comes out as racist. That being said, the dramatic unsettling rhetoric and polarizing black-and-white approach to racial issues attributed to Mrs. Giovanni is not "black-power nonsense". It can be better understood and empathized with when we see Mrs. Giovanni, a black woman and feminist from Tennessee, hails from the civil rights era of the 60's . Black pride, black power and nationalism were hip during her times. There was a wide spread movement to reclaim and resolve psychological and identity crises brought about by centuries of enslavement and discrimination. It might seem a bit odd for a person who starts the story in the middle( like the South Asian writer) but the legacy of those ugly days is still here. If you think there is no racism and discrimination today in the US, then I understand why this would seem "nonsense" to you. But it behooves you( or any one wondering about race relations in the US) to see if there are any studies done regarding the racism/discrimination of the modern millenium. One recent study I can think of is here[2]. What about the " Sun down towns" scattered across America [3] ? Short of the blatant racism, how about the psychological effects of everyday life where the default for everything is white? Where caucasian features are considered the standards and norms for beauty [4]? Think of the millions of people who use skin bleaching treatment? How about the thousands East Asians who undergo surgery to lift their eyes? To get back to my original point, I don't think black people are incapable of racism( there are many out there), but the article about a black activist given by the original commentator as evidence is just that- an article about a black activist. Heran4ever April,19 2007.

Now that was a rant -- and an extremely naive one at that; especially how you like to imply so much that it is somehow the fault of caucasian people. I've got news for you, areas of Asia have admired fair skin well before they even encountered people from Europe. If an African goes to live in Asia, then they will have to deal with a situation where everything is yellow. If a South American goes to Africa, then they will have to live where the norm is black. Racism comes from all races towards any other race. You have racism in Africa against Asians that makes racism in the United States look like kindergarden play. The bottom line is that what Nikki Giovanni has said makes her seem to be a straight up racist, and you being her apologist makes no difference -- and that is what is indeed just more nonsense. Her saying that whites invented slavery, if that isn't one of the most ignorant things said in debates about racism, i don't know what is.

Giovanni was Cho's creative writing teacher[edit]

This NY Times blog[5] is reporting that she was the professor who kicked Cho out of her class because she was scared of his writing. Is this a credible source?StreamingRadioGuide 23:52, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

blogs are tricky. Here's an AP story [6]. Thatcher131 02:22, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Should Giovanni be partially responsible for Cho's mental breakdown? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Was Hitler's art teacher partially responsible for WWII and the Holocaust? Jamiem 13:44, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, but that is apples to oranges... 20:59, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Um, yeah, that was kind of my point. Jamiem 18:50, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Instead simply kicked him out made him felt more humiliated, she could do a little bit more to help him. Maybe that will not help anything, but as least will not push that kids further. Daniel

and this is more right on. A teacher simply displaying fear at a student and saying that either he goes or she goes certainly did not help things. 20:59, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Fixing the quotes on Cho Seung-hui[edit]

To quote the talk page for Cho's article:

"I know that CNN reported this: As tales of Cho's worrisome behavior continued to surface Wednesday, a renowned poet and author who taught the 23-year-old gunman called the notion that he was troubled "crap" and said he was "mean." But this is what the professor actually said: "I know we're talking about a troubled youngster and crap like that, but troubled youngsters get drunk and jump off buildings; troubled youngsters drink and drive," Giovanni said. "I've taught troubled youngsters. I've taught crazy people. It was the meanness that bothered me. It was a really mean streak."

So really the conclusion doesn't follow the quote... so I think it should be changed. Adrux 18:39, 19 April 2007 (UTC)"

I believe that this needs to be fixed in Ms. Giovanni's article as well. Butterflytoflame 03:25, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

some info[edit]

At [7] it gives her full name as, "Yolanda Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni, Jr.". Daughter of: "Jones (a probation officer) and Yolande Watson Giovanni". Maternal grandparents, "John Brown and Emma Louvenia Watson". Interestingly she is listed at African Italians, but there are no citations for this. She is listed here [8] as an "Italo-African" American. A lot of interesting questions. It is difficult to follow her heritage though at this point. 21:23, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

I agree, it is difficult. Someone edited the article to include that her father was of Italian extraction, but I have found no proof of this claim in any of my searches. I wouldn't be surprised by its being true, but I would still prefer a source. That she is listed on African Italians and other lists on Wiki doesn't amount to much, however; before I changed it, she was put in several lists as a breast cancer survivor, when she actually had lung cancer. Because she's a woman with cancer and breasts, right? Come on! People assume things on Wiki far too often without proper research. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I'll keep looking. :) María (habla conmigo) 21:35, 22 April 2007 (UTC)


As stated above, it's been assumed that Giovanni is of Italian extraction because of her last name and her light complexion. Contesting this claim, seeing as how Giovanni identifies as African American and has never said otherwise, I've found a couple sources saying otherwise. Giovanni believes that her father's family is "descended from slaves owned by an Italian slaveowner," although she admits that their lineage is obscure. [9] I'll be on the lookout for other info, but if Giovanni herself does not know, I doubt anything more concrete will appear. For now I'll be removing the statement that her father was of Italian extraction and citing the source above, and delisting her from various Italian and Afro-Italian lists. María (habla conmigo) 18:54, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

An Italian slaveowner! ROFLOL. It is highly doubtful that there were any Italian slave owners in the United States, or anywhere else for that matter -- unless you go back to Ancient Rome. It is possible on the other hand that the family was liberated and chose this name for whatever reason (maybe they saw they an advertisement for the opera Don Giovanni?!) This was also the case for many freed slaves that took random names like Washington, etc. Anyway, from seeing her pictures, she definitely looks to be of some mixed-extraction. It makes it even more sad to see the biased statements she makes... 04:00, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
WP:OR. María (habla conmigo) 12:25, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
What is Nikki talking about? Poor Italian immigrants never owned slaves. There was barely any Italians in America before the Civil War, and the ones that lived in America were treated like a lesser race of swarthy criminals. After all, poor Italians immigrants in the South were used to replace slave labor after slavery was abolished. I highly doubt any Italians would have been wealthy enough to own slaves. I also doubt white Anglo America would have allowed it. Maybe she needs to research the history of Italians in America. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rexwarrior (talkcontribs) 17:08, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Why is the idea of Italian-American slaveholders inconceivable to you? There were BLACK people who owned slaves, too! There were also Native American slaveowners. Also, there were some white slaves/indentured servants. Don't believe me? Check the wikipedia entry on Slavery In The United States! It's all there Yes, most of the landed aristocracy were white and Northern European, but there were also those from other areas of Europe, too. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:42, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

More on Cho Seung-Hui[edit]

I removed this from the article:

One of Giovanni's stedents at Virginia Tech was Cho Seung-Hui, who recently shot 32 people and then himself. Cho'- poems were dark and disturbxing to other stuhents, and nhe had asked him to either write an different subjects or leave the class. Ha replied, "You can't make me," and continued to write the same kind of poetry. Giovanni eventually had him removed from the class."

It's true that she had him as a student, per the CNN report quoted above. However, this is not in itself notable -- certainly lots of people had the man as a student, and it doesn't add much to his story or hers to know that he was once taught by a famous poet. As for the "meanness" quote above, and the statement that she had him removed, these ABSOLUTELY need sources before being reinserted into the article. Otherwise it's just gossip. The AP source quoted above would probably do, but again, this is something that probably belongs on his article if it belongs anywhere and not here. -- phoebe/(talk) 04:14, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Plus, this is already covered in the article. -- phoebe/(talk) 04:29, 25 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree, it's redundant and unnecessary. People are looking for a scapegoat, apparently; I've had to remove several "like teacher like student" sentiments as well as allegations that Giovanni is somewhat responsible, whether it be because of her teachings or because she didn't do enough to stop Cho from committing the tragedy. I think the article already states enough on Giovanni's role as Cho's teacher. María (habla conmigo) 13:13, 25 April 2007 (UTC)
I edited the section on Cho. She is misquoted in the previous version as calling him "downright mean," and I just changed it to "mean." Nowhere in the source does she use the word "downright." - Rashaun (talk) 03:26, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

Biographical objectivity[edit]

Does the first section of the article meet Wikipedia's standards for objectivity? It seems to be unadulterated praise. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:36, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Stray footnote?[edit]

I just removed this: more info from the paragraph about her son. It was smack in the middle of the word "responsibilities." Maybe it is of some value, but I didn't know what to do with it. Yopienso (talk) 02:16, 10 February 2011 (UTC)


Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville,Tennessee, on June 07,1943(73 years old) Even though she grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio.

But she goes back to her hometown to see her sister and grandparents every summer. Nikki graduated in honors of her late grandfather’s. Nikki went to Virginia Tech. Nikki went there and became a very famous Professor.

Nikki also only had one child his name is Thomas Giovanni

Popular poetry

Giovanni poetry was mostly about black history.

Nikki Giovanni had established herself as one of the leading poetic voices. She won a lot of awards including the Women of the year in 1973. Nikki went on many shows like the African-American arts and culture. She continued to write. She spent most of her time touring and speaking to the public. Her most popular poetry was Rosa(was about the famous Rosa parks). On my way journey(Looking at african-american history). Nikki publish her first book in 1968 because he love dr. Martin Luther King jr. And he died the same year she published her book too.