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Nikki Giovanni: The Princess Of Black Poetry

1730 words - 7 pages

In the twentieth-century, when Contemporary Literature was emerging from 1960 to present time, it was seen as a product of the post-Second World War situation. Yolande Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb in Cincinnati. Giovanni is one of the most commonly read American poets; her frankness in her writing has brought her a lot of recognition and prominence. Giovanni became the voice of many African Americans, her contribution to the literary period reflects the struggle for equality, and the power one has to make a difference in oneself and in other’s life. Her writings reflect contemporary events and experiences in her own life, as well as in the larger African American community. At times, she can be rather controversial but becomes a respected speaker and reader and has upheld a prominent place as a strong voice of the Black society.
Contemporary literature is a modern form of writing, which was born out of the devastations of World War II, characterized by unique features such as linguistic and stylistic characteristics, and thematic features. It is the product of the post-Second World War situation. It was a moment in time when “cynicism, frustration and disillusionment crept into the lives and minds of mankind after witnessing the damages caused by the War” ("Contemporary”). People were pessimistic, bitter and could not appreciate the glorious history, which marked the beginning of the romantic and metaphysical works. Some of the linguistic and stylistic characteristics consisted of free verse, juxtaposition, or combination of ideas and themes and a broad use of classical allusions. Contemporary poet, Nikki Giovanni, is famous for writing in free verse, and has an open form of writing. It is also common to see the sharing of ideas and themes from other languages and cultures, especially in autobiographical pieces. In Giovanni’s first published book of poems, the volume includes the poem “Nikki-Rosa,” one that gives a account of the life of a young African- American girl growing up in the times of racism and violence. Contemporary literature also had distinctive thematic features, they crushed the present social customs and cultural faiths, and the significance and sense of the writings diverge from their typical subjects. As an example, Giovanni wrote “vividly, the stark and bitter realities, without relishing on the glorious and the legendary pasts” ("Contemporary”).
Giovanni’s childhood, time in college, and experience as a mother have proven to be fundamental to her career as a writer. She spent summers with her grandparents in Knoxville, and her grandmother, Emma Louvenia Watson, became a great influence on her. Her grandmother was involved in several charitable and political events and taught her the importance of helping others and fighting for inequality. At one point, when a demonstration was planned to “protest segregated dining facilities at downtown...

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