Friday, February 27, 2009

A Poet In Motion

"if i can't do
what i want to do
then my job is to not
do what i don't want
to do
"it's not the same thing
but it's the best i can

"if i can't have
what i want then
my job is to want
what i've got
and be satisfied
that at least there
is something more
to want

"since i can't go
where i need
to go then i must go
where the signs point
though always understanding
parallel movement
isn't lateral

"when i can't express
what i really feel
i practice feeling
what i can express
and none of it is equal
i know but that's why mankind
alone among the animals
learns to cry"

As a writer I've always admired poets like Maya Angelou, the late Langston Hughes and e.e. cummings and Sonia Sanchez. These were and are the men in women who inspired me to write. But no one, and I mean no one, writes like the queen..the great...Nikki Giovanni. Ms. Giovanni is more than just a poet, she's an educator, activist, and heralded author of a number of poetry collections that span as far back as 30 years ago. Yet, her work is timeless.When I was young I used to read her poems over and over again trying to figure out a way to make my words sound like hers. Of course, I couldn't because she wrote from experience and a depth that was tapped from something deep down within her soul. The first poem I ever read from her was "Ego Tripping" which made me see the beauty within myself as a black woman.

"I was born in the Congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star that only glows every one hundred years falls into the center giving divine perfect light, I am bad......"

Yesterday, I read an interview with her and award winning journalist Bill Moyers from PBS and was reminded yet again why I love her so much. I could care less if she wrote a poem that was 4 or 40 lines because I know that whatever it is it will move me. Like her poem "Balance."

in life
one is always

like we juggle our mothers
against our fathers

or one teacher
against another
(only to balance our grade average)

3 grains of salt
to one ounce truth

our sweet black essence
or the funky honkies down the street

and lately I've begun wondering
if you're trying to tell me something
we used to talk all night
and do things alone together
and i've begun
(as a reaction to a feeling)
to balance
the pleasure of loneliness
against the pain
of loving you

Her words express truth and power, it is the essence of who she is. A strong, courageous, beautiful black woman of talent. May her poems continue to dew for others what they have done for me all these years. For some reason Ms. Giovanni I know that they will.

1 comment:

Veronica said...

Thank you for sharing Nikki Giovanni's works. They gave me the inspiration I needed to get through the day on a higher note.