Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Seven Questions with Poet/Author Nikki Giovanni

Seven Questions with Poet/Author Nikki Giovanni
Interview conducted by Serena M. Augusto-Cox
Click here

Augusto-Cox: What prompted you to become involved with Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat? Do you think poetry is important for children and adults and why?

Giovanni: I became interested a long, long time ago because my son listened to hip hop. I began even then to try to learn where this “new sound” was coming from since I well know everything old is new again, as the expression goes.

Augusto-Cox: Poetry and music seem very akin to one another; do you feel that other genres can apply the rhythm of Hip Hop and other styles to generate passion among children, such as a passion for reading?

Giovanni: I think there is an ebb and flow to everything; there is a rhythm to all speech whether spoken or written. The most important sound is always silence. It is the pauses that make up the meaning. I wanted to give some sense of that rhythm to young people as well as a bit of history.

Augusto-Cox: Do you believe that writing is an equalizer that can help humanity become more tolerant and collaborative?

Giovanni: Writing is an equalizer only in so far as what is being written is truthful. Written lies promote hatred and we've seen a lot of that lately. Writing is only a tool of the truth, and we who believe in a more tolerant world need to keep putting that truth out.

Augusto-Cox: Do you see spoken word, performance poetry, or written poetry as more powerful or powerful in different ways and why?

Giovanni: I think all art has its moments and reasons. I don't see any special reason to rank effectiveness since we all cross over and learn from each genre.

Augusto-Cox: Do you have a set writing routine? Do you get up early and start writing or do you write when the mood hits?

Giovanni: I am an early morning or late night writer. I am more comfortable when I know I will not be disturbed. I must say that mood has nothing to do with professionalism. All writers study all the time, learning something all the time, looking at things differently all the time. That's what is important.

Augusto-Cox: Can you describe your writing space?

Giovanni: I write in essentially a tight space. It is a small room with lots of books, a CD player, some photos, and my computer. I have a phone in here but it seldom rings. Also, my fax and Xerox machine. I sit on a rocker.

Augusto-Cox: Do you have any advice for writers/poets just starting out?

Giovanni: The only advice I have is you, the young writer, should always be reading something—a book, a magazine, a newspaper, anything. A writer who is not reading isn't doing her homework.

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