Monday, February 01, 2010

February's Poets

Part One
Nikki Giovanni (1943-). Outspoken, charismatic, activist poet and author of 15 books of poetry, 11 children’s titles, and 3 she co-authored, Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni is currently Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech. Like her mother and sister, Giovanni suffered lung cancer. She had one lung removed. Afterward she commented, "[I]f it takes a near‑death experience for you to appreciate your life, you're wasting somebody's time." Long an activist for civil rights and black power, she has often spoken truth to authority. At Virginia Tech she demanded the administration remove an unknown student, Seung‑Hui Cho, from her poetry class. She offered to resign over the issue. The day following the shooter’s massacre, she brought healing to mourners overflowing Cassell Coliseum by intoning the “chant poem” which follows:

We Are Virginia Tech

We are Virginia Tech
We are sad today
And we will be sad for quite a while
We are not moving on
We are embracing our mourning
We are Virginia Tech
We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly
We are brave enough to bend to cry ...
And sad enough to know we must laugh again
We are Virginia Tech
We do not understand this tragedy
We know we did nothing to deserve it
But neither does a child in Africa dying of aids
Neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by a
rogue army
Neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory
Neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water
Neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of night in his crib in the home
its father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was
No one deserves a tragedy
We are Virginia Tech
The Hokie nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to
those who offer their hearts and minds
We are strong and brave and innocent and unafraid
We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be
We are alive to the imagination and the possibility
We will continue to invent the future
Through our blood and tears
Through all this sadness
We are the Hokies
We will prevail

Further Reading : a Selection for Adults and Children
Bicycles : Love Poems
Hip Hop Speaks to Children : a Celebration of Poetry with Beat
The Genie in the Jar
On my Journey Now : Looking at African-American History through the Spirituals

Content developed by local resident and poet Leland Jamieson, author of: