Nikki Essay

Nikki (Yolande Cornelia) Giovanni has made an enormous impact on African
American literature. She uses her own experiences to write wonderful poetry. In
the poem “Nikki-Rosa,” Nikki Giovanni writes the opposite about her
growing up in her family. When I first read this poem, I pictured a
poverty-stricken family living in a small apartment, much like the Younger
family in A Raisin in the Sun. Evidently, the family is poor because they have
no inside toilet and take baths in “one of those/ big tubs that folk in
chicago barbecue in” (10-11). The family is not as concerned about poverty
as they are for their love for one another, “And though you’re poor it
isn’t poverty that concerns you and though they fought a lot it isn’t your
father’s drinking that makes any difference but only that everybody is together
and you and your sister have happy birthdays and very good Christmasses”
(20-26) The poem reveals a good family does have its problems. I got the feeling
the children in the poem loved living where they lived although their parents
weren’t the richest, or they didn’t live in the nicest house. The children
realized that there was more to life than having a pleasant house and delightful
things. The children in the poem realize that family life is more important than
material objects. The poem “Nikki-Rosa” was written based on the life
of Nikki Giovanni. Nikki Giovanni’s childhood was very much different that the
one described in the poem. Giovanni was raised in a middle class family,
although she did learn of poverty from her parents who happened to be social
workers (Wiedemann 1500). Her childhood could be described as very happy (Great
178). Giovanni’s world in her poetry is an extension of her real life. Often,
she sees herself existing among tensions. Biographers who write about Nikki
Giovanni always comment on the poverty of the family, her parent’s fighting, and
note her father’s alcoholism, but almost never comment on the closeness of her
family or the richness of a strong, supportive family (Wiedemann 1499). “[I]t
isn’t your father’s drinking that makes any difference/ but only that everybody
is together” (23-24). This line in the poem sums up very well the feeling
of family in the home of Nikki Giovanni during her childhood. The poem is not
autobiographical of Giovanni’s life, but it does parallel the development of her
radical conscious (Wiedemann 1500). “Nikki-Rosa” is a typical example
of a poem by Nikki Giovanni. She writes about what she knows and what she has
experienced. The poetry of Giovanni is related to issues African-Americans face
on a daily basis. According to Don L. Lee, she knows the need for Black
awareness, unity, and, solidarity; she has lived through it, and knows a change
can be affected. (182) Nikki Giovanni’s poetry contains no punctuation,
symbolizing a continuous thought (Wiedemann 1499). Typically there is no form in
her poetry. A wide audience has read her poems because of the simplicity of the
language used and the imagery of everyday life (Wiedemann 1499). Giovanni rarely
uses difficult symbols and avoids the usage of complex vocabulary to convey the
meaning of her poetry, especially “Nikki-Rosa” (Wiedemann 1500).

Barbara Wiedemann comments that “Nikki-Rosa” hints at the division of
whites and blacks (1500). In Wiedemann’s interview with Giovanni, she states
that whites cannot understand the black experience, and because of the power
structure in America, whites should be held accountable for the poverty
experienced by the black population. Giovanni believes differences in education
cause poverty, a lack of social services, and discrimination. (1500) This poem,
written the day after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death is supposed to represent a
young person growing up in an impoverished family who later becomes a black
activist. The Nikki in the poem is not Nikki Giovanni. However, Rosa is Rosa
Parks, the same Rosa who, in 1955, refused to give up her bus seat to a white
woman. Giovanni writes about these kinds of things because she herself has
attended antiwar demonstrations, the Civil Rights Movement, and various riots
throughout the nation. These and other events such as the assassinations of
Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Robert Kennedy helped to radicalize
Nikki Giovanni (Wiedemann 1500). Nikki Giovanni uses her knowledge of subjects
related blacks to write her poetry. Within her poetry, she emphasizes the
importance of family and love in the family to create a success. In her own
family, she had two loving parents and siblings. She used her knowledge and
experience to write the poem “Nikki-Rosa.” Giovanni is a poet who
wrote about what she knew the most about, black culture and the importance of

We will write a custom essay sample on
Nikki Essay
or any similar topic only for you
Order now

Giovanni, Nikki. Gemini. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. 1971.

—. Racism 101. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1994. Lee, Don L.

“Nikki Giovanni”. Contemporary Literary Criticism Volume 64. Carolyn
Riley, ed. Detroit: Gale Research Co. Great Women Writers. Frank N. Magill, ed.

New York: Henry & Colt Company. 1994 Wiedemann, Barbara. “Nikki
Giovanni”. Masterplots II: Poetry Series Volume 4. Frank N. Magill, ed.

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Salem Press. 1992.


Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Check it out