Nikki Giovanni

Poet Information

Nikki Giovanni

About the Poet

Nikki Giovanni photo

Poet Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on June 7, 1943. Although she grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, she and her sister returned to Knoxville each summer to visit their grandparents. Nikki graduated with honors in history from her grandfather's alma mater, Fisk University. Since 1987, she has been on the faculty at Virginia Tech, where she is a University Distinguished Professor. In her own words: "I was asked to do a biography so this is it. I am 71 years old. I highly recommend old age; it’s fun. I have been awarded an unprecedented 7 NAACP Image Awards which makes me very very proud. I have been nominated for a Grammy; been a finalist for the National Book Award. I am very proud to have authored 3 New York Times and Los Angeles Times Best Sellers, highly unusual for a poet. I am a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech. I don’t have a lot of friends but I have good ones. I have a son and a granddaughter. My father, mother, sister and middle aunt are all deceased literarily making me go from being the baby in the family to being an elder. I like to cook, travel and dream. I’m a writer. I’m happy."

From the author's website


West Central

Virginia City or County Affiliation

Blacksburg, VA

Years of Residence in Virginia


Current City/State of Residence

Blacksburg, VA




Black or African American

Year of Birth



Black history and culture, Civil rights, The history of Black struggles, Family, Relationships

Published Works or Performances

  • Those Who Ride the Night Winds: Poems. William Morrow, 1983.
  • Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not-Quite Poems. William Morrow, 2002.
  • The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni, 1968-1998. William Morrow, 2003.
  • Acolytes. William Marrow, 2007.
  • Bicycles: Love Poems. Harper Collins, 2009.
  • Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid. William Marrow, 2013.
  • Make Me Rain: Poems & Prose,.William Marrow, 2020.

Selected Individual Poems or Performances

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Nikki Giovanni