Nikki Giovanni Biography

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

Nikki 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 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, Truth 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.

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.

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Nikki Giovanni Videos

WIU Keynote Speaker Nikki Giovanni
Why Not the Right Thing the First Time | Nikki Giovanni | TEDxHerndon
An Evening with Nikki Giovanni -- Point Loma Writer’s Symposium

How to book Nikki Giovanni?

Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Nikki Giovanni for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at All American Entertainment represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire keynote speakers, celebrities or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Nikki Giovanni, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Nikki Giovanni or any other celebrity of your choice.

How much does it cost to book Nikki Giovanni?

Booking fees for Nikki Giovanni, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of presentation, and the location of the event. Speaker fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Nikki Giovanni, please fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.

Who is the agent for Nikki Giovanni?

All American Entertainment has successfully secured celebrity talent like Nikki Giovanni for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service talent 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. Fill out the booking request form 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.

What is a full-service talent booking agency?

All American Speakers is a "buyers agent" and exclusively represents talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure celebrities and speakers for personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, public relations campaigns, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Nikki Giovanni or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Nikki Giovanni or any other speaker or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please read the AAE Advantage.

Nikki Giovanni is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Nikki Giovanni for your event is $10,000 - $20,000. Nikki Giovanni generally travels from Virginia, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Viola Davis, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Rashida Jones and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Nikki Giovanni for an upcoming event.

Nikki Giovanni Videos

WIU Keynote Speaker Nikki Giovanni
Why Not the Right Thing the First Time | Nikki Giovanni | TEDxHerndon
An Evening with Nikki Giovanni -- Point Loma Writer’s Symposium

Nikki Giovanni Reviews

  • Amanda and Marissa are easy to work with, responded to every email/message quickly and really cared about the event. Nikki Giovanni was the highlight of the activities our organization was holding for Black history month so there was a lot of pressure to have this run smoothly. They understood our challenges and really worked with us and because of that we had a great event that our colleagues will remember for life. I look forward to working with them again!
    Alight Solutions LLC - Feb 15 2021

  • Miami University - Jan 21 2021

  • National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NCBW) Phoenix Chapter - Dec 31 2020

  • Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) - Mar 05 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

Nikki Giovanni News

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Speakers Similar to Nikki Giovanni

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