Nikki Giovanni Makes Us Cry

Somebody heard my mother cry standing in the middle of the road. Somebody heard my mother cry standing in the middle of the road. Won’t somebody hug her, won’t somebody hug her, standing in the middle of the road.

-Nikki Giovanni, A Good Cry

We don’t hide our overwhelming affection for gifted artists here in The Sheets. As students of awe-inspiring artists like Nina Simone, we hold to her creed to ‘only listen to the masters.’ After decades of consideration, we still can’t find a reason to sift through mediocrity when giants walk the earth.



While we’re on the subject of giants… and Nina… one of her close friends and co-conspirators just dropped a new joint. Poet, Thug, and Virginia Tech English Professor, Nikki Giovanni, wants us to understand the benefit or at least be conscious of the ritual of tears throughout our lives. Her latest Harper-Collins release, A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter, helps us investigate our spirit and arch a bridge above the pain to get over.

Students of Giovanni’s poetry know she suppressed her tears for many years. They may find comfort in knowing even thugs like Nikki shed tattoo tears after a while. In her autobiography, Gemini, she details her apparently rough upbringing but later writes the poem Nikki-Rosa where from her perspective, she was ‘quite happy.’

If you feel something, go do something about it. I did. -NG


Check out this great write-up on her appearance at The Gregory School in Houston.

 Acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni stirs Houston admirers – Houston Chronicle


childhood remembrances are always a drag
if you’re Black
you always remember things like living in Woodlawn
with no inside toilet
and if you become famous or something
they never talk about how happy you were to have
your mother
all to yourself and
how good the water felt when you got your bath
from one of those
big tubs that folk in chicago barbecue in
and somehow when you talk about home
it never gets across how much you
understood their feelings
as the whole family attended meetings about Hollydale
and even though you remember
your biographers never understand
your father’s pain as he sells his stock
and another dream goes
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
and I really hope no white person ever has cause
to write about me
because they never understand
Black love is Black wealth and they’ll
probably talk about my hard childhood
and never understand that
all the while I was quite happy
Nikki Giovanni, “Nikki-Rosa” from Black Feeling, Black Talk, Black Judgment.Copyright © 1968, 1970 by Nikki Giovanni. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Source: The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni (2003)




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