Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems

by Nikki Giovanni
     
 

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“One of her best collections to date.” —Essence

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea is a tour de force from Nikki Giovanni, one of the most powerful voices in American poetry and African American literature today. From Black Feeling, Black Talk and Black Judgment in the 1960s to Bicycles in 2010, Giovanni’s poetry has

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Overview

“One of her best collections to date.” —Essence

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea is a tour de force from Nikki Giovanni, one of the most powerful voices in American poetry and African American literature today. From Black Feeling, Black Talk and Black Judgment in the 1960s to Bicycles in 2010, Giovanni’s poetry has influenced literary figures from James Baldwin to Blackalicious, and touched millions of readers worldwide. In Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, Giovanni turns her gaze toward the state of the world around her, and offers a daring, resonant look inside her own self as well.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“An embracing, uplifting, and sustaining voice.”
Essence
“One of her best collections to date.”
VOYA
Giovanni's latest poetry book must have been written for just for this reviewer. Its subject matter, its regional views, and its political agenda are aimed in this direction. Arranged in six untitled sections whose themes are not self-evident, the poems take an artifact from life and examine its cultural impact. For example, Giovanni captures her grandmother's wisdom through the image of a colander full of blackberries. Likewise, she laments the tragedy of September 11 through the loss felt by unattended pets of the victims. Whether the poem is about things, such as a park in Knoxville, a robin's nest in snow, the latest Harry Potter movie, or people, such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Williams (father of Serena and Venus), and Aretha Franklin, the poet examines the culture surrounding them. Her poems are eulogies and proclamations. For example, in "In the Spirit of Martin," she writes, "How much pressure / does the Earth exert on carbon / to make a diamond / This is a sacred poem / open your arms / turn your palms up / feel the Spirit of Greatness / and be redeemed." It will be easy for any reader to find himself or herself in Giovanni's work. As she says in her poem to Emerson Edward Rudd, "Thank you for finding yourself in my poetry." VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2002, HarperCollins, 110p, Reddy-Damon
Library Journal
Particularly in light of the recent deaths of June Jordan and Gwendolyn Brooks, readers might well look to Giovanni as spokeswoman for the black experience. And, at times, she captures it, effectively representing "all the women who said Baby, Baby, Baby I know you didn't mean to lose your job...I know you didn't mean to gamble the rentmoney I know you didn't mean to hit me." A recent poem, "Have Dinner with Me," written after the World Trade Center collapsed, is a modern masterpiece. Unfortunately, too many of these poems, though themselves strong, seem intent on rehashing the 1950s political climate. And the "Not Quite Poems" predominate. These proselike pieces include childhood memoirs that draw the reader clearly into her experiences, and there is a delightful spoof on what the movie of Harry Potter should have been, but elegiac tributes and political diatribes fare less well. "I keep trying to learn something new so I can share what I am learning," she writes in a letter-poem to a convict on death row. While the effort is to be praised, she too often comes up with insights readers have absorbed a long time ago. For larger collections.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060099534
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/28/2010
Pages:
110
Sales rank:
1,379,666
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

Nikki Giovanni, poet, activist, mother, and professor, is a seven-time NAACP Image Award winner and the first recipient of the Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award, and holds the Langston Hughes Medal for Outstanding Poetry, among many other honors. The author of twenty-eight books and a Grammy nominee for The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, she is the University Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Read an Excerpt

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea
Poems and Not Quite Poems

Possum Crossing

Backing out the driveway
the car lights cast an eerie glow
in the morning fog centering
on movement in the rain slick street

Hitting brakes I anticipate a squirrel or a cat or sometimes
a little raccoon
I once braked for a blind little mole who try though he did
could not escape the cat toying with his life
Mother-to-be possum occasionally lopes home ... being
naturally ... slow her condition makes her even more ginger

We need a sign POSSUM CROSSING to warn coffee-gurgling
neighbors:
we share the streets with more than trucks and vans and
railroad crossings

All birds being the living kin of dinosaurs
think themselves invincible and pay no heed
to the rolling wheels while they dine
on an unlucky rabbit

I hit brakes for the flutter of the lights hoping it's not a deer
or a skunk or a groundhog
coffee splashes over the cup which I quickly put away from me
and into the empty passenger seat
I look ...
relieved and exasperated ...
to discover I have just missed a big wet leaf
struggling ... to lift itself into the wind
and live

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea
Poems and Not Quite Poems
. Copyright � by Nikki Giovanni. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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