vocalisms #25: Nikki Giovanni


vocalisms is a regular feature that presents selected tracks from voca, the Poetry Center's online audio video library of more than 800 recorded readings, spanning from 1963 to today.

photo of Nikki Giovanni

“That’s a bit of superfluous information I shared today,” Nikki Giovanni says at one point in this recording from her 2006 reading for the Poetry Center. Despite this statement, nothing here is superfluous—in this track, Giovanni takes the kind of commentary poets usually offer during their readings to the next level, delivering her thoughts on college athletes, the need to connect with students about their personal interests, the history of NASCAR, and her vision for making space exploration more accessible and meaningful for the general public. Giovanni engages the audience with humor and vivacity, leading them slowly but surely towards her poem written for NASA, “Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea (We’re Going to Mars),” another highly recommended track from later in the full reading.