Poet Nikki Giovanni at Virginia Tech Convocation

I've long been a fan of poet and Virginia Tech (VT) professor Nikki Giovanni. She's on my mind today because of her healing words and the ovations she received at the VT convocation, a service held yesterday to honor the victims of the shooting tragedy by a young man named "Cho." Thing is, I well know how Nikki Giovanni can move an audience... Because as a child, I was absolutely intrigued -- transported, even -- by her famously vivid and empowering poem, Ego Trippin'.

Compellingly delivered atop a music bed of some of the hardest African drumming you've ever heard, Ego Trippin' played in heavy rotation on the radio station I grew up listening to in St. Louis. Whenever Nikki's poem-song began wafting from my radio, I'd turn it up loud to hear her emphatically say:

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

- Nikki Giovanni, Ego Trippin'

It warmed my heart to see Nikki singled out by national news outlets for her encouraging words. But earlier today, an NPR report about the shootings at VT, where Nikki teaches English, connected me to the legendary poet on an entirely different level....

In the NPR interview, Nikki says she told the VT powers that be that she'd resign from her job if they didn't remove an eerily silent and interpersonally challenged student named Cho from her class.

This apparently smart stance and foreshadowing about Cho's character reminded me of another "old school" artist from her Ego Trippin' days: James Brown. 'Cause it sounds like Nikki should have told VT, in those infamous words of James Brown from "The Big Payback":

I don't know karate, but I know ka-RAYzay!

Nikki Giovanni kicked Cho out of her English classCho turned out to be "ka-RAYzier" than even Professor Nikki knew. Or maybe not...

I'm not trying to make light of the mass killing at VT. I am just so feeling Nikki for telling the school to get that nut away from her and her students. I'm loving her sixth sense -- or common sense, really. In 2005, Cho was kicked out of Professor Giovanni's English class. Yes, she is still bad.

After hearing Nikki's NPR account of her personal brush with and bristling at Cho -- and the emerging mental health accounts of others -- it is unfathomable that he was able to purchase firearms.

So while Obama has us full of hope about soon cleaning up America's image, and Rev. Al Sharpton has us full of hope about tidying up rap music, we might as well grab the Pine-Sol and revisit the gun-control laws, too.

For more about the poet, her close friendship with Rosa Parks, the work she created honoring Tupac Shakur and more, check out Nikki Giovanni's interview about her new book, "Acolytes."

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Adrienne Zurub said...

Fast post of this! I just heard her on CNN. She is always a on point and a sense of comfort and solace in these and those times.

Thanks for the YouTube Video.

Adrienne Zurub

Cynthia said...

You never know about people. The tiniest thing could have set him off.

hazel8500 said...

This was an excellent and moving post. Nikki Giovanni's wordshttp reached right in and pulled out the sadness I didn't know how to express.
Thank you for sharing it.

alicia banks said...


i love yuor blog

alicia banks

Kinoko said...

whoa.. that is a pow fox!


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