Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Giovanni grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated with honors from Fisk University 1968, and subsequently attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk, in 1968, and within the next year published a second book, thus launching her career as a writer. Early in her career she was dubbed the "Princess of Black Poetry." Author of some 30 books for adults and children, her works have received numerous critical awards and honors. Her autobiography, Gemini, was a finalist for the National Book Award; Love Poems, Blues: For All the Changes, Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, Acolytes, and Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat were all honored with NAACP Image Awards. Blues: For All the Changes reached #4 on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller list, a rare achievement for poetry collections. Most recently, her children's picture book Rosa, about the civil rights legend Rosa Parks, became a Caldecott Honors Book and reached #3 on The New York Times Bestseller list. Shortly after its release, Bicycles: Love Poems reached #1 on Amazon.com for Poetry.
Over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing, Giovanni has come to be called both a "National Treasure" and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey's twenty-five "Living Legends." The recipient of some twenty-five honorary degrees, she has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony Magazine. She was tapped for the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame and named an Outstanding Woman of Tennessee. Giovanni has also received Governor's Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia, as well as a numerous other honors. One of the most widely-read American poets, she prides herself on being "a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English." Giovanni remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the Black community. Her focus is on the individual, and, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others. She is currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.