Friday, April 4, 2014

Poets on Poetry: NIKKI GIOVANNI

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit The Poem Farm for Amy's latest Thrift Store poem... and Poetry Friday Roundup! 

Also, our Progressive Poem is progressing with a parade of animals! Be sure to check in with Anastasia at Poet! Poet! for the latest line.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"Poetry is employed by truth. I think our job it to tell the truth as we see it. Don't you just hate a namby-pamby poem that goes all over the place saying nothing. Poets should be strong in our emotions and our words, that might make us difficult to live with, but I do believe easier to love. Poetry is garlic. Not for everyone, but those who take it never get caught by werewolves."
 - Nikki Giovanni

Complete NPR interview here.

And here is a favorite Nikki Giovanni poem! I use it with students as an example of a poem that employs all of the senses. Don't mean to rush us into summertime, because wow, isn't spring amazing this year?! But I sure do love this poem. Plus my sister lives in Knoxville, so now I have all sorts of new memories and feelings associated with this poem. :)


Knoxville Tennessee

I always like summer
Best
you can eat fresh corn
From daddy's garden
And okra
And greens
And cabbage
And lots of
Barbeque
And buttermilk
And homemade ice-cream
At the church picnic
And listen to
Gospel music
Outside
At the church
Homecoming
And go to the mountains with
Your grandmother
And go barefooted
And be warm
All the time
Not only when you go to bed
And sleep 

21 comments:

  1. So much here to love, Irene. I want to wear "Poetry is garlic" around my neck! This is one of my favorite Nikki poems too, and well....listening to you read is just a treat. Thank you for bringing us all together on SoundCloud and in the Progressive poem. You are a giver and a connecter, and I am grateful. Happy Poetry Friday!

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    1. Amy, "Poetry is garlic" is brilliant, isn't it?? I am grateful for YOU. xo

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  2. Yes, "poetry is garlic" made me smile. Someone needs to put it on a t-shirt. Loved hearing you read both these poems!

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    1. Thank you, Buffy - "poetry is garlic" tshirts for all! xo

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  3. I love hearing you read these, Irene, & Buffy is right, someone should put "poetry is garlic" on a tee.

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    1. Linda, I am all for the "poetry is garlic" tee. Thanks for stopping by! xo

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  4. I love that 'Have something to say' and garlic. Great thoughts on poetry.

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    1. Thank you, Catherine (who has something to say)! xo

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  5. What a wonderful poem to share. I love that the simple words add up to such a full picture.

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    1. I agree, Liz - simple and beautiful!

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  6. That is one awesome quote! Sign me up for a tee!

    And "Knoxville Tennessee" reminds me a bit of When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant. It was one of my daughter's favorites when she was young. Both carry the warmth of home and family.

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    1. Yes! Cynthia Rylant is a favorite of mine. I bet she has some great quotes... will look! Thanks for stopping by. xo

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  7. I had the same connection as Diane - there is that shared sense of warmth and comfort and simplicity.

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    1. warmth and comfort and simplicity... and poetry too! Some of my favorite things. Oh, and GARLIC. Thanks for stopping by! xo

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  8. I, too, enjoyed the comforting sensation of Nikki Giovanni's poem. But what I enjoyed even more was your poem, "Inside the Chocolate Factory," on Tabatha's blog (and you reading it here as well). I was truly swept up in the craving, the hunger, and the wonder-full feast... "before we learned/to count what we didn't have." Thank you for that delicious poetic treat.

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  9. Chocolate, barbeque, homemade ice cream, and garlic -- delectable post you've got here today, Irene! I'm not sure what namby pamby poems Ms. Giovanni is talking about. ?? I guess she is giving an example of being strong in her words :-)

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  10. I love "poetry is garlic," too!

    And this is one I'll take back to my students as an example of those sensory images...and mood, too!

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  11. I've always loved that poem. And I was born in Knoxville! Thanks for sharing. And for being such a strong poet yourself.

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  12. Inside the Chocolate Factory is indeed a magical place, more dreamy in your words with your voice. Yum!

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  14. That poem from Nikki just made me unbelievably hungry. I hope to read more of Nikki Giovanni's poems soon - poets being compared to garlic is just plain genius. But wait... what if you like werewolves? (I love the werewolves in the TV series True Blood. Hahaha).

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Your thoughts?