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

Overview

When Nikki Giovanni's poems first emerged during the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements of the 1960s, she immediately took a place among the most celebrated and influential poets of the era. Now, Giovanni continues to stand as one of the most commanding, luminous voices to grace America's political and poetic landscape.

In a career spanning over thirty years, Giovanni has created a body of work that's become vital and essential to our American consciousness. This collection ...

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Overview

When Nikki Giovanni's poems first emerged during the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements of the 1960s, she immediately took a place among the most celebrated and influential poets of the era. Now, Giovanni continues to stand as one of the most commanding, luminous voices to grace America's political and poetic landscape.

In a career spanning over thirty years, Giovanni has created a body of work that's become vital and essential to our American consciousness. This collection of new poems is a masterpiece that explores the ecstatic union between self and community. Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea is an extraordinarily intimate collection. Each poem bears our revered cultural icon's trademark of the unfalteringly political and the intensely personal: The elegant "What We Miss" exalts the might and grace of women, while "Swinging on a Rainbow" rejoices about the spaces in which we read; Giovanni commemorates Africa and her family legacy in the majestic "Symphony of the Sphinx" and contemplates our America in the heartbreaking "Desperate Acts" and "9:11:01 He Blew It." And in the dreamy "Making James Baldwin" and dazzling "Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea," Giovanni gives us reason to comfort, to share, to love, to change and to be human.

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea is Nikki Giovanni's meditation on humanity and soul. It's her revelatory gaze at the world in which we live -- and her confession on the world she dreams we will one day call home. Nikki Giovanni is a national treasure as she once again confirms her place as one of America's most powerful truth tellers and beloved daughters.

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Editorial Reviews

Essence
“One of her best collections to date.”
Booklist
“An embracing, uplifting, and sustaining voice.”
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.
Booklist
“An embracing, uplifting, and sustaining voice.”
Essence
“One of her best collections to date.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060099534
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/28/2010
  • Pages: 110
  • Sales rank: 941,237
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Nikki Giovanni

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.

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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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Table of Contents

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea 1
Possum Crossing 5
A Robin's Nest in Snow 6
The Wind in the Bottle 7
Rosa Parks 8
What We Miss 10
In the Spirit of Martin 12
BLK History Month 14
Shoulders Are For Emergencies Only 15
I Always Think of Meatloaf 16
Symphony of the Sphinx 19
Cal Johnson Park in Knoxville, Tennessee 21
Aunt Daughter and That Glorious Song 22
Blackberry Cobbler 25
The Son of the Sun 26
No Complaints 28
Here's to Gwen 30
The train to Knoxville 32
Twenty Reasons to Love Richard Williams 34
Another Aretha Poem 36
Ann's Poem 38
A Community of Clouds 39
Swinging on a Rainbow 40
For Tony and Betty 41
Word Olympics 42
Desperate Acts 45
9:11:01 He Blew It 46
The Self-Evident Poem 50
Have Dinner with Me 51
My America 53
The Girls in the Circle 57
The Meadow Throws A Birthday Party 58
A Very Special Christmas 60
Bring On The Bombs 65
Making James Baldwin 73
Beamer Ball 77
Susan Smith 80
Emerson Edward Rudd 82
Art Sanctuary 87
Sanctuary: For Harry Potter the Movie 88
From Whence Cometh My Help 91
A Miracle for Me 93
A Deer in Headlights 95
The Nashville Connection 102
Redfish, Eels, and Heidi 105
In Praise of a Teacher 108
Don't Think 109
The Song of the Feet 110
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First Chapter

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 nota 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. Copyright © by Nikki Giovanni. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2003

    Shouts out

    Nikki Giovanni (NG) really did a great job with her poetry and a better job getting her point across. The short stories had me consciously focused but I especially enjoyed Rosa Park's story. In my opinion, NG is one of the best American Black poets of today.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2003

    "My Inspiration"

    I enjoy you sharing your wisdom,journeys and knowledge with us all.You are well appreciated.From one artist to another with love. Cassandra Dillon(Author of "Reality Poems")

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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