Award-winning poet pays a visit to Cabrini

By Brittany McLeod
February 14, 2008

Megan Pellegrino

Award-winning poet Nikki Giovanni paid a special visit to Cabrini and shared her esteemed literature with the cavalier campus on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

As members of the community poured into the Grace Hall atrium, President Antoinette Iadorola introduced a friend to the audience and provided an opportunity to hear one of the most influential African-American writers of all time.

Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. She has received many honors for her books such as the National Book Award for “Gemini,” “Love Poems,” “Blues: For All the Changes,” and “Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea” were all honored with NAACP Image Awards. Most recently, Giovanni’s children’s picture book “Rosa,” about Civil Rights legend Rosa Parks, became a Caldecott Honors Book and also reached number three on The New York Times Bestseller list.

As she read some of her best poems to those who were lucky enough to find a seat, she managed to also tell her audience a great deal about herself in a short time. Addressing current issues and the future, she challenges this generation to ask itself if they do or do not accept the possibility of human happiness.

As sincere as she is small, she expresses her love for living by saying, “Life is fun. I’ll be sad when I lose it. Life is just a good idea.” Her writing shows she has been through incredible hardships and puts her growth on display. She explains further that even as her mother was dying, the only thing she could do was write. “‘Accolades’ was written during the death of my mom, sister and best friend,” said Giovanni. The three occurred almost simultaneously.

Reading poems such as “Knoxville, Tennessee,” and the clever “Do the Rosa Parks,” Giovanni entertained the hearts and minds of those who attended the presentation.

Earlier in the day, select students were treated to a luncheon in the mansion where they were able to meet Giovanni up close.

“She was just real. She took something so simple and broke it down and it was just so cool,” said sophomore Bill Monahan.

Giovanni has the pleasure of being the first person to receive the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, describing her idol as, “Not a woman of her time but indeed a woman of the future.”

Over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing, Giovanni has come to be called both a “national treasure” and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends.”

Giovanni is most certainly a distinguished and talented poet who lives by her words and will continue to influence audiences young and old. Her deeds have been accomplished because of her risk-taking and her belief that life is “99 percent accidents.”

“If you’re afraid to fail, you can’t get anything done,” said Giovanni.

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Brittany McLeod

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