Why poet Nikki Giovanni dreams of space travel

The award-winning poet explains why kids growing up in inner cities are equipped for NASA

By D. Watkins

Editor at Large

Published October 30, 2017 12:22PM (EDT)


One thing I have always enjoyed about the award-winning poet Nikki Giovanni is her ability to tell the truth.

It doesn’t matter who’s around or who may get offended, she sits back lays her feelings across the table for all to hear, and whatever happens, happens. We need that kind of bravery in the art world­­ today, especially during the time where talent is measured by the numbers of likes and followers you have on social media.

Giovanni came to the Salon studio to discuss her new and 27th poetry collection, "A Good Cry, What We Learn From Tears and Laughter," with me. While we chatted, she delivered some hard truths in a way that only she can.

She also gave us some insight on why we should be in space. “The thing I've been stressing to kids, I know for the last 10 years or so, to you know, your high schoolers, your eighth graders, is that they have to start thinking about going into space,” Giovanni said.

“There’s nobody more available for space than those of us whose ancestors came over in the Middle Passage, because space is middle passage," she said.

Giovanni referenced kids in inner cities feeling isolated and alone. "There’s nothing more isolated and alone than space, and so they need to take that skill of being able to say, yeah I can do that," she said.

Catch more of our conversation about change, being alone and Giovanni’s new book here.

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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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