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Slideshow: Nikki Giovanni

A full house rose to their feet when University at Albany Professor Leonard Slade introduced his longtime friend, renowned American poet Nikki Giovanni, at the university's Campus Center Ballroom on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of UAlbany’s Department of Africana Studies.

Giovanni beamed as she took the stage and shared stories of her life, both somber and hilarious. She recalled the violence she witnessed from her father and her long and ultimately joyous relationship with her mother, and spoke candidly of her recent diagnosis with breast cancer.


Following a reading of her poems, Giovanni spent more than an hour signing books, posing for photos and speaking (and hugging) students, faculty, and community members. (Photos by Patrick Dodson / University at Albany)

Nikki Giovanni

Bestselling poet

Thursday, October 10, 2019
7 p.m. Campus Center Ballroom, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany
See map
Free and open to the public

Nikki Giovanni, activist, mother, professor, firebrand, healer and sage, is one of the leading poets of her generation, a seven-time NAACP Image Award winner, and the first recipient of the Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award.

Giovanni presents her new book, A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter (paperback, 2018), a wide-ranging memoir about the joys and perils of aging; the violence of her parents’ marriage and her early life; the people who have given her life meaning; the grandparents who took her in and saved her life; the poets and thinkers who influenced her; and the students who gave her life purpose.

With more than 50 years of experience as a poet, writer, commentator and activist, Giovanni is deemed a prominent voice of the Black Arts Movement and has provided insightful and bold commentary on issues such as race, gender and inequality.




Nikki Giovanni's book, "A Good Cry"

Giovanni is also a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech University. In addition to her prolific career as an author and poet, she has received numerous awards and honors, including the Langston Hughes Medal, the Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award and a Grammy Award nomination for the Best Spoken-Word Album.

She has written more than 30 books, numerous poems, essays and sound recordings. 

Sponsored by the University at Albany’s Department of Africana Studies in partnership with the NYS Writers Institute to celebrate the Department’s half century of excellence. The first in the SUNY System to grant the master’s degree in Africana Studies, the Department ranks first in its field nationally for graduate degree conferrals and in the top ten for undergraduate conferrals.


Poet Nikki Giovanni at UAlbany on Thursday: Work emerged during black arts movement of 1960s (Times Union, Oct. 3, 2019)


James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni in conversation on the television program "Soul!" recorded in London, 1971. 

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