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Nikki Giovanni

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4.92 out of 5

Poet, Educator & Best-Selling Author

Nikki Giovanni

Speaker RatingSpeaker RatingSpeaker RatingSpeaker RatingSpeaker Rating
4.92 out of 5

Poet, Educator & Best-Selling Author

Travels From Travels From:
Virginia, USA
Speaking Fee Speaking Fee:

Nikki Giovanni Biography

Nikki Giovanni is one of America’s most widely read poets and among the most renowned poets world-wide. Her poem, “Knoxville, Tennessee,” is arguably the single literary work most often associated with that city.

Giovanni was born Yolande Cornelia Giovanni, Jr. in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1943, but her parents moved to the all-black Cincinnati suburb of Lincoln Heights when she was an infant. She and her sisters spent the summers with their grandparents in Knoxville, and she returned there for her high school years. She enrolled as an early entrant at Fisk University, where her grandfather had graduated, but was “released” in February in 1961, because her attitudes were deemed inappropriate for a “Fisk woman.” She then returned home and took classes at the University of Cincinnati until she returned to Fisk in 1964. At Fisk, she reinstituted the school’s chapter of SNCC, edited the literary magazine, and graduated magna cum laude in history in 1967. Returning to Cincinnati, she directed the city’s first Black Arts Festival before enrolling briefly in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Work. Recognizing that she was not meant to be a social worker, she entered Columbia University’s MFA program. In 1968 she self-published her first poetry book, a nineteen-page staple-bound volume entitled, "Black Feeling Black Talk," which sold some 2,000 copies in its first few months, which allowed Giovanni to self-publish her second book of poetry, "Black Judgement." William Morrow & Company approached her about publishing her first two volumes together in one book, and "Black Feeling Black Talk/Black Judgement" was published in 1970.

During the late 60s and early 70s, Giovanni lived in New York and, after giving birth to her only child, Thomas, began earning an income through her lectures and poetry readings. Her frequent appearances on the Black entertainment show "SOUL!!," along with her extensive lecture tours, made her one of the most popular and recognizable poets of the Black Arts Movement. In 1971, "Gemini: An Extended Autobiographical Statement on My First Twenty-Five Years of Being a Black Poet" was a finalist for the National Book Award. In that same year she published her first children’s book, "Spin a Soft Black Song," and released the album "Truth Is On Its Way," on which she read her poetry with and in juxtaposition to the New York Community Choir; although she made no money from it, it was an enormous success, selling some 100,000 copies in the first six months of its release.

In 1978, Giovanni’s father suffered a stroke, and she and her son returned to Cincinnati to take care of her parents, and she did brief teaching stints at The Ohio State University and the College of Mount St. Joseph on the Ohio. In 1987 Nikki Giovanni began teaching at Virginia Tech, where she was named, in 1999, a University Distinguished Professor. Since she has been at Virginia Tech, she has published two collections of essays, several illustrated children’s books (including the award-winning Rosa), and ten volumes of poetry for adults. In 2005, both her mother and her sister died of lung cancer, for which Giovanni herself had undergone successful surgery some ten years earlier. The loss of her mother was as profound a blow as she had ever experienced. At the age of 74, Giovanni was also diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy.

Giovanni has received numerous awards in the course of her career, including seven Image Awards from the N.A.A.C.P., more than two-dozen honorary degrees, the first Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award, the Langston Hughes Medal for Poetry, and the Carl Sandburg Literary Award; additionally, Oprah Winfrey recognized her in 2005 as one of twenty-five “Living Legends.” She continues to teach, write, and publish books, the most recent of which is "A Good Cry." Her newest collection, "Make Me Rain," was released in October of 2020.

Nikki Giovanni Speaking Topics

  • Human by the Grace of God: A View of Diversity

  • Tennessean By Birth; Poet By Choice

  • Celebrating Black Heroes and Heroines

  • Women's Lives, Women's Power

  • Using the Past to Shape the Future

  • The Power of Storytelling

Nikki Giovanni Videos

  • Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project | HBO
    “I remember what’s important and I make up the rest. That’s what storytelling’s all about.” GoingtoMars: The Nikki Giovanni Project, an...
  • Nikki Giovanni On Black Women In America + Her Latest Work
    The Breakfast Club features celebrity interviews, Charlamagne tha God’s Donkey of the Day, Angela Yee’s Rumor Reports, DJ Envy’s mixes and so...
  • Nikki Giovanni: I Am "Living" with Cancer!
    Iconic poet and professor Nikki Giovanni says she is not fighting cancer, but she is living with cancer.

Nikki Giovanni Books

  • A Good Cry: What We Learn From Tears and Laughter
    A Good Cry: What We Learn From Tears and Laughter
  • Lincoln And Douglass: An American Friendship
    Lincoln And Douglass: An American Friendship
  • The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998
    The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998
  • On My Journey Now: Looking At African-american History Through The Spirituals
    On My Journey Now: Looking At African-american History Through The Spirituals
  • Racism 101
    Racism 101

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FAQs on booking Nikki Giovanni

  • How do I book Nikki Giovanni to speak at my event?

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  • What are the speaker fees for Nikki Giovanni

    Speaking fees for Nikki Giovanni, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. The estimated fees to book Nikki Giovanni are for live events and for virtual events. For the most current speaking fee to hire Nikki Giovanni, click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak directly with an experienced booking agent.
  • What topics does Nikki Giovanni speak about?

  • Where does Nikki Giovanni travel from?

    Nikki Giovanni generally travels from Virginia, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
  • Who is Nikki Giovanni’s agent?

    AAE Speakers Bureau has successfully booked keynote speakers like Nikki Giovanni for clients worldwide since 2002. As a full-service speaker booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Please click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page including the details of your event, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Nikki Giovanni for your next private or corporate function.
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    AAE Speakers Bureau is a full-service speaker booking agency, meaning we can completely manage the speaker’s or celebrity’s engagement with your organization from the time of booking your speaker through the event’s completion. We provide all of the services you need to host Nikki Giovanni or any other speaker of your choice, including offer negotiation, contractual assistance, accounting and billing, and event speaker travel and logistics services. When you book a speaker with us, we manage the process of hosting a speaker for you as an extension of your team. Our goal is to give our clients peace of mind and a best-in-class service experience when booking a speaker with us.
  • Why is AAE Speakers Bureau different from other booking agencies?

    If you’re looking for the best, unbiased speaker recommendations, paired with a top-notch customer service experience, you’re in the right place. At AAE Speakers Bureau, we exclusively represent the interests of our clients - professional organizations, companies, universities, and associations. We intentionally do not represent the speakers we feature or book. That is so we can present our clients with the broadest and best performing set of speaker options in the market today, and we can make these recommendations without any obligation to promote a specific speaker over another. This is why when our agents suggest a speaker for your event, you can be assured that they are of the highest quality with a history of proven success with our other clients.

Nikki Giovanni is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as Human by the Grace of God: A View of Diversity, Tennessean By Birth; Poet By Choice, Celebrating Black Heroes and Heroines, Women's Lives, Women's Power, Using the Past to Shape the Future and The Power of Storytelling. The estimated speaking fee range to book Nikki Giovanni for your event is $10,000 - $20,000. Nikki Giovanni generally travels from VA, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Tamika D. Mallory, Ellen McGirt, Bakari Sellers, Ijeoma Oluo and Clayborne Carson. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Nikki Giovanni for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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