Why poet Nikki Giovanni doesn't cry

In her latest poetry collection, "A Good Cry," Giovanni expresses the difficulty of showing emotion during struggle

By D. Watkins

Editor at Large

Published October 24, 2017 12:38PM (EDT)

Nikki Giovanni (Peter Cooper)
Nikki Giovanni (Peter Cooper)

Dreams do come true. I say this because I had the amazing opportunity to sit down with my hero, the iconic poetic genius Nikki Giovanni on "Salon Talks."

To put that in context, I’d ask you to imagine a teenage LeBron James getting a chance to hang out in the Chicago Bulls locker room with Michael Jordan. For those who don’t know, Giovanni has received 19 honorary degrees from colleges and universities, along with numerous achievement, humanitarian, and recognition awards from government, private, and public organizations, including Woman of the Year for Ebony, Mademoiselle and Essence; YWCA Woman of the Year; awards from the Kentucky state legislature and the governors of Tennessee and Virginia; and seven NAACP Image Awards.

Giovanni came to the Salon studio to tell us about her new and 27th poetry collection, "A Good Cry, What We Learn From Tears and Laughter." We talked about vulnerability and the difficulties of showing emotion in a time of revolutionary struggle.

“Like a lot of people in my generation, I wouldn’t cry. We had so much work to do, we had friends who died, we had friends who were hurt. I am a friend of John Lewis, John was beaten, you couldn’t stand there and cry, you had to see what you could do to help.” Giovanni said.

“There is no poem in the book called 'A Good Cry,' and what the book is doing is exploring those things that make us sad.”

Watch to hear more from Giovanni about "A Good Cry" and to watch her recite a selection from the book, "Heritage."

Tune into Salon's live shows, "Salon Talks" and "Salon Stage," daily at noon ET / 9 a.m. PT and 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT, streaming live on Salon and on Facebook.

By D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a writer on the HBO limited series "We Own This City" and a professor at the University of Baltimore. Watkins is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America”, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," "Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope" as well as "We Speak For Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress." His new books, "Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments," and "The Wire: A Complete Visual History" are out now.

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"a Good Cry" Authors Books Nikki Giovanni Original Video Poet Poetry Rep. John Lewis Salon Talks William Morrow