thumbnail of In Black America; Nikki Giovanni: Portrait of a Contemporary Writer
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
fb i have built my talent on the wings of a spider spinning slit in the daydreams fantasies and i don't want our kids to an indian woman writer and poet nikki giovanni she was among the most popular in the sixties drew harvell points you know we have a black nationalist who makes tough financial direction of indecisiveness why this week nikki giovanni a contemporary writer in black america ian black america reflections of the black experience in american society john henson nikki giovanni writer and poet who was born in knoxville
tennessee raised the lincoln heights ohio black community outside of cincinnati today six ancient this universe when it came in on this matches up with a lot of like coming to the civil rights movement i like history my feeling was published in nineteen sixty eight second look like jasmine also came out in nineteen sixty eight a game in nineteen seventy four this divide became a media personality network tv performances of an orchard presently she is active in speaking on college campuses and says maybe community programs in black america as history of it became one of america's political like riders you don't understand that you can't say i'm going to do it and i like poetry i mean that's i think that we in america over below what is called
fame and success and actually we don't get an alert the flag a lot of my life and when you land though say you know welcome to austin you know have a good day in austin or whatever your final destination will be an accounting got tired of the city's tourism and it you know the final destination is seven or how and she didn't really understand what i was saying that your final destination is not san marcos the final destination is is it really going to and i think that people i'm looking for in our age right now that's transitory things so they're saying you know she successfully successful and it's not about anything other than were trying to do something you know become successful and today is one reason that most of us who grew up reading what you read it what's really read very few living poets you know we've been fighting we were living pods of infighting there because they don't know how to judge a writer who was still alive to maybe do we say something embarrassing what he cannot be as rivera oh if you don't have to be in a model rocket but you cannot be some sort of an asl so they prefer that you die and then we would judge the quality of your work
because you know you can't come back and say anything that would be embarrassing with a surgeon want to be a poet i haven't made any basic the city were still open i do writing and i do as they said i also writes poetry but i it's what i do is not done if tomorrow i couldn't be published or something like that i would still enjoy it for what i do so it's a part of me you came to national prominence during the sixties the civil rights movement did that have an effect on this bow attempt at the time of the orchard where we like to think of what you had an effect it is that it the sixties when that europe but certainly it was a symbiotic relationship in newport you writing saves me that when the first book black chalk by filling in the new book my house there was a definite sense in changing the life in a way that you know trey you were sick i don't think so but i like a county
as clear as i can about this i don't criticize my work i write it and i don't think it's my young my job to be there but i don't think signing new plan a point on here to go with flaxen hair and that feeling that our part that at juilliard was rough brennan in terms of style there's no stylistic difference between an attitude which offer an end the pornographer john lennon and that's not to say that it consisted because i don't value consistency it on railroad appointed be the point as a you know an athlete saying this but i think that people find it convenient to label people i don't really like to be labeled and the label that i wear that i am most proud of actually said i'm black female and a poet i'd like to write where what i see and what i what i see and what i feel but i think that you know we can go back to build one then i can show you everything in but one that showed up in vacation time same thing you mean a similar informing black is like that programs like his typical to awareness in the eighties a black american took a concern about
my culture i think that we would always be in error and a multicultural nation not to be concerned about the cost of all peoples i had the extreme the likes of discovery maxine hong kingston who has to be one of the better contemporary writers on a latino magazine and she writes like an angel and he read about the chinese american childhood and i was so glad that i had written a book or gemini and it's enough to me that i read it because you begin to learn about people i've done and that is as aware of my indian american indian and mexican american reading as i probably should be but i think that always your you're expanding yourself i was at the lbj library last year with ms johnson which was a young the light and the national endowment came down and gave it to john johnson library in civility in a few thousand dollars out of that that was regrettable as the johnsons are rich family and we give out of that eighty three thousand dollars into ethnic the eighties we could have a much more flow and i think that we are in an interview yesterday
personnel black and i just say as i think that all of us have fixed it and i was very proud that houston revive porgy and bess because it was one of the great things that they did and as you may or may not be where they want to new york and i was the head of the new york seasoning they really did a number and even regional theaters should be supported and we don't support regional theaters it's gonna have to be inclusive there just as they did porgy and bess which is an older we can do better since then but we did do porgy and bess and we do do it then we also need to be looking for the other operas that either have been written that when apple falling into madame butterfly don't get it for the chinese in what has to be you know the saying something new and you wanna see the monies that we have that we have available to the arts going into developing the writers but i think that that should be an across the board situation i think the the endowment particularly good if it's less about under reagan and that's very questionable has an obligation to seek out the women the monarchies in general as well as the men who are doing radical jihad because what's happening off broadway is the best it's happening in the world it would've meant for young man named richard gere billionaire
may not know i happen to a jordi i think is whether the fine young actors that we have if he had agreed to do but it's a very significant play would never have made it to broadway was only because india that it happened and unlike mr it to go rafting here happened but you know you begin to think people were writing plays and if they don't happen to have a good friend a map or chino are urging gear we don't get to see them and i think that we here to bring out that which is not acceptable you know that i think it's a nice unity to appalachian spring is something i enjoy here colton i and though enjoyed boy jack i enjoy the rest of it but they already had their shot with new composers with a lot of new out how it's you know when is the last time the public library could do a point you read you know that people come out for me nothing that that's important i think a week we have to expand the art community always you know olive drab and there's one asset only a one thousand of the magazines and i think as it will be given or never again but i have to question and a good question why we getting the massachusetts review money master he was rage it's all that nothing's
gonna have me on and nothing's going to happen to mass review its subscribers can take ever like like national geographic it's why we want to lend to them when there are a thousand little spanish speaking magazines and the rattlesnakes there's such a good name but they're there right and then two thousand dollars makes a difference for years publication of them wears tan makes nothing means nothing to master young sons and i just think that we should be there to help those who need help well considering writing a play you in a movie that i'm very much an unhappy about exact shine day i think if she does a very fine job of for colored girls have considered suicide when the rainbow is enough and it is a fine contemporary expression out of the emotional life of that moment across the country i was very happy to have been a part of helping tune to put that together to help others as when it's it was dog and i think my job is so who i am is to try to make what other people are doing passport sentimental believe in that theory that you know flashy best boss at every opinion of starvation in africa and it i don't do plays
and i don't write scripts like that out of the question after i think that i'm happy to see other people do and beginning was a devoted its report published not believe that i would be less than terrified i didn't recognize that there are difficulties whether the future hold for black america was really concern ourselves living in china be better people were not the best people in the world leaders at the audience and i think they're well essentially shape right now and i suppose that i think that we can do an awful lot better and iran are one to one relationships through relationships and in the ideas that we've we just heard this positive ideas and i love i am a poet many other people will come in they'll be able to do something that you know jesse jackson tommy o'neil go through you know we have to do this the idea that he's probably right that article and i just think when i keep looking around we on the verge of a nervous breakdown is it's a mass close will break down that's happening it started in the west and it's it's going all the way
and i think that we need to learn to be there for each other and i think that we have to practice that and i think we can do that i think that that white americans can give up their control of black america's about is benefiting now i think we need a new idea that's when i'm janice and i think that it's up to those of us who are young and were thinking about things you know before you say well i'm twenty two i gotta get married i gotta get a master charging out about new car before that happens think about doing something else with your life because none none of its guarantee you know you may make lots and lots of mistakes in a fight itself in the middle of a jelly something thing when i do an ear you know and say you know scared to death of it be scared to death they are unhappy when you twenty five you know and i mean everyone across the knee aspiring poets playwrights young black writers because a number of them because these manuscripts to be submitted to our own the publishing i shall be as encouraging as i can be and i think that right now the publishing deal it's a very very
tight for those we were trying to publish it is simply a matter of money and the commercial press is simply will not make a commitment to young writers what pleases me about that is that they had been so very clear that we who are now young right is recognize that we have to do it ourselves i came up in the sixties when we did it ourselves or former smokers like dialogue up the business of the police of the people and until it when they grow up which you know one of the things you learned business if you're intimidating and i haven't been able to do business and i thought do i care about as there's that you know ross perot didn't have any money you know so why should i keep doing it every other product that have made a lot more money than that dialogue on his watch that it again you know you let somebody else finance and business in the new libya comes down if you devote it up for sale it's that simple you know i think that the university presses have been very helpful young poets for those of us our young writers in general for those of us who were writing right now the fact that that indiana university has a press that is now viable our neighboring arizona has a great person arizona mexico border to great poetry presses
those of us all women is pitching is the new famous press how about coming out a census gone they're doing i think a very very fine job now howard university press for those of us who are black is looking for names gets bad about black people in the tv series men script so that i'm gonna cheered in the fact that the the majors have now made so very cute young writers that they are not interested at the young riders are now gearing themselves up to say and how can i get my own workout you know like i went on like a senate and a random house and he rejected i will go and do something myself and i think that one of the things that it's what i've always done is what i love is that we have to take our work around we have become in seattle bellamy i read it you know and it was what's going to happen is it's going to run and his big legs gonna sing everybody here that we see is about right and we can't leave it all to judith krantz you know and the rock n n n and truman capote in an ngo about because they're not doing anything they're not writing literature what they're doing is saying i'll bring his butt out how can i make a movie out of it and i think that that's an awful thing to happen i think that those of us who
care about literature and ideas have got to go and the people know that we can't because i don't like that and i did like that was once again the tonight show twice you know they don't like me you know people like me everything they make sense and that shows people like me had no fine you know oh you're really going to be serious you know i've done that he became a religion he's the most serious of the host though your porches been put to music while you couldn't do it is going to music visit of them like i i don't like to record industry i think this comedy earthworks in them that industry and do you know that most insensitive people at a seven at the time energy and i've been in cincinnati is opposed to new york and on there because my dataset is joking it requires a lot of time for me to go make a record in today's unity at celtic a long weekend and got to make a record i am thinking about going to wreck that often i'll produce laptop and a choir director because i have some things that i do want to put on record but i just really haven't had the time and i haven't had the these dire enough
to make the times and i say we make time you know unless you i just haven't felt like making the time because i have to be at their anyplace from thirty to forty five days and i'm fairly quick with making records i don't do a lot of calling around i can go from you know in session to remakes depressing to just resting and a fairly short amount of that would you still talking any place between a month month and a head in a thirty forty five days maybe ninety days would be there because you got to get away from an innocent i just have never gonna tended to vote to something that marginal to live as environment have any effect on what you write about south carolina rhyme in every place that i stay at the time as a typewriter and now that's given one to me you know where you don't let me that read announcer has a boss vanessa my friends do too liberia's family members are never without it i drink a lot of coffee and ever for a rocker i write in a rocker have rocker and now other than that i'm pretty were relaxed and that's something i can work in mess and i am i don't have major
key friends in the gently relatives i cannot function in there some like all other writers and cast an interview because you write all right is for after they said they can look and see just a little speck of dust on the furniture before you sit down and write to go and investigate anything to keep writing so well it's in four daughters and poisoning the designs things and i can think of the women's movement as opposed to law there's movement on the menu has become an entire hour in terms of the beep and unless four seventy years women can do a lot better but i think it when it's done on basically cheerful women and i just wrote an article on non abortion because i do have strong feelings and i just got to say you know we were men in menopausal women if they don't as germany and that is about that but i think that we were women have have also got to learn to let a lot of control go that's how i think i'm lucky because my mother's little crazy she always was she was odd when her family that she never be anything rein in but other
thing as in the man the father that is now the family got a good marriage and as i can i think so i think i'm lucky that i was her daughter's post a somebody other people's i could have been but i think that mostly we were women still wanna say why did it that way and that's the way you should do it rather than admitting you know well it works for me i didn't work for me but you can try something else i'll be here for you you know and i think that women have about a grownup to do we still have the basic questions of war peace that we were women need to have opinions on as women we still send our sons off to war and we still say it's gray denies i saw carol burnett who i have a great deal of respect for as a comedian but also as an actress us are unfairly fire levchin i was so happy the chaotic that role because there was no way that you could literally fire and not understand that this is america's fate and folks you know and i think that the revolution she played a woman whose son was killed and viet nam black american forces which is called friendly fire and that that made a difference in earnest and i mean it's not raining today what did it matter that he was killed by our forces
are that he was killed it and it didn't matter the point is that her son died and and burn it was the perfect person to play that role that she had she had a lot of cuts as i'm sure she got a lot of letters from people who thought the carol burnett show was funny and why was she doing and patriotic another way they treat jane fonda something i'm very proud of those women and they're proud of vanessa redgrave that she does as the guts to say you know i really think that we ought to work here but the plo is not to say i'm going to be a part of this i'm gonna make them available on the other hand i'm also gonna play the hell out of france a lot and then a play of greatness because i'm an actress and a nightly basis i do what i do you know i like that i like the women they get out there and then do it again find it could say you know i'm shooting jane fonda play monopoly it seemed like an idiot in their words the way she lifted that piece and she's a great she's a great actress as they dice and i have a lot of respect for says they figure that uses in that same way that they're going to do things in and have respect but i think the movement overall are not happy with it because i think it is the city's juvenile
i think as narrow minded you know we may not have something right now and gloria steinem should have something to say about el salvador she chatted it would not a game was set more and i'm not against women having you know equal pay for it but i mean i'm not saying that that's not significant but compared to what's happening down women in el salvador who are weeping because we have sent weapons to kill their children and we too will be weeping sung because our children will follow the advisors they're bigger questions and how to get in the executive board room in zimmerman say and i think that we were women have got to approach the world from what we are you know and i just you know can i can i make another but that was a bit of bitterness in anybody us we have an obligation and the joy i think of being black is that we were black recognize that we will not get into the boardrooms so that we are free to begin to re conceptualize the world we were not married it's not probably not avid reader was sympathy for american innovation and then she was a beloved you know in terms of business or you know a comedy that idea band x but that's not a real problem
when they're coming here was gonna work is not a real problem we do have some real problems in the world and i think we were women have the obligation responsibility to re conceptualize to try something new because we've never benefitted from the old system as the black power slowly taken on new meaning in the eighties add an i got a collection of buttons a moment ever i get broken laws so you have got our mothers in the sixties for you are you know people wanna be free and i think that we've won a deal with the quality of the scheduling of course it's relevant i just think that we were veterans of that era and i think that i'm not alone in this we haven't been calling any veterans administration in meetings you know they can't think but i think we're also seeing and what what a lot of our fellow civil rights people got into immediately was ecology was held flu was to some degree a personal expression you know and a lot of the big haim i think to send be unhealthy that entity an end to give the guardian to do with huge mansion everything's gonna be all right but on the other hand i think that what they're saying is that we are
indeed the new frontier is is the human spirit and we have to get into it to some degree in it i agree you know with that and i think that our we also recognize and i am into all mammals of the same you know if i have any cliche expression it is clearly at this point all mammals are the same i just can't see that my relationship with my job is any different from other wolves relationship to her job and if you've ever seen the mother wolf watcher baby died from the poison each other that's horrible was a difference between that that would poison a wolf because obesity and we've been strangled a black chow because it's honestly i don't understand the difference here is that when i'm saying and i think that i would be incorrect to i said even my heart to assume that somehow know that because i am a human who walks up bright and if an especial from other mammals i don't see i think that it's this generation and we're in danger that sees the last of the blue whale we will have to pay the same price for the blue whale that we pay for the american indian that we pay for slavery was actually digging a hole in the sand and i think that that
at some point everybody recognizes that bygones are bygones as ronald reagan nice to say we turn the page and we try not to dwell on the past but we bills become to end and that due date is not on what your great grandfather bought it so what you and i think that we have an obligation to try something i have built my tower on the wings of a spider spinning slippery daydreams of paper about since i got my tower on the peak of it picking piece to an aging woman i have gotten it means i'm a lover man holding a nation in his palm asking the time of day i have to like yes or whether she was thinking i was an oyster plant shut for ever when this tiny grain i hardly noticed kept inside and i spit round and spin around and spun her universe inside with a national board that only i explain that i had won and the right and i stress not imagine doing cause this castle didn't grumble and losing the pro
made me gary and adolfo but the olive branch by harriet speak to my best and this do you like america nancy
In Black America
Nikki Giovanni: Portrait of a Contemporary Writer
Producing Organization
KUT Radio
Contributing Organization
KUT Radio (Austin, Texas)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/529-5t3fx75180).
Talks on Black theater, women's movement, Black's emotional freedom and Black Power
Created Date
Asset type
Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
University of Texas at Austin
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Copyright Holder: KUT
Guest: Nikki Giovanni
Host: John L. Hanson
Producing Organization: KUT Radio
AAPB Contributor Holdings
KUT Radio
Identifier: IBA18-81 (KUT Radio)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 0:29:00
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “In Black America; Nikki Giovanni: Portrait of a Contemporary Writer,” 1981-03-19, KUT Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 22, 2023,
MLA: “In Black America; Nikki Giovanni: Portrait of a Contemporary Writer.” 1981-03-19. KUT Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 22, 2023. <>.
APA: In Black America; Nikki Giovanni: Portrait of a Contemporary Writer. Boston, MA: KUT Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from