Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt forces me to state the obvious :
Nikki Giovanni is a silly old lady still suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.
She also writes sucky poetry. But Dan Schneider says it so much better H E R E .
SHAMEFUL POETRY CONFESSION:
When I was an idiot leftist I shoplifted homegirls and hand-grenades (no caps of course, keepin’ it REAL girl… unh) from the college bookstore. I realize now what bad poetry it is, and for thinking back then that it was not, I am guilty. I have had more than my fill of militant black wahmens full of grandiose Afrocentric delusions rambling on in awful unfree verse. This stuff has been foisted on me since sixth grade and it is time to call it out for what it is: repetitive predictable garbage. Seriously, Hallmark cards have better poetry than these honorarily-degreed holy cows of blackification. Please check this hilariously dull and grim-faced live poetry session:
But back to Nikki Giovanni . . .
sane perspective from Cosmoetica:
Giovanni’s body of work includes provocative poetry from decades ago that’s laced with profane and violent language. In her piece, “The True Import Of Present Dialogue, Black vs. Negro,” it reads in part:
Can you kill
Can you kill
Can a nigger kill
Can a nigger kill a honkie
Can a nigger kill the Man
Can you kill nigger
Huh? nigger can you
The poem also includes stanzas asking if black people know how to kill in different ways, and if they can “stab-a-Jew” or “run a protestant down with your ’68 El Dorado,” adding in parentheses “that’s all they’re good for anyway.”
In another of her poems titled “The Great Pax Whitie” it reads in part:
In the beginning was the word
And the word was
And the word was nigger
And the word was death to all niggers
And the word was death to all life
And the word was death to all
peace be still
Giovanni’s work also includes celebrated poems such as “Knoxville, Tennessee,” which honors summers in the Volunteer State, and she also wrote a children’s book about Rosa Parks, her personal friend. She also writes many poems about love.
find a poem, and then write a new poem that has the shape of the original, and in which every line starts with the first letter of the corresponding line in the original poem.
Official scribblers, when I was a poet,
Whinged, driveling into an MFA void—
Intolerable, as if God were a literary milquetoast
with no poetic spine,
capable of little. An MA advisor.
If weird line breaks mean anything at all—
totally done with that.
Tepid sort of academic brown-nosing,
tedious rehash of predictable Modernism
obfuscating in rarefied tones, in some chapbook
boringly academic, same as it always was,
except offering their inferior product to no one.
And then before long, an awful new
poem is born. Cringingly dull.
Other children, when I was a child,
would at times invoke the inner light—
I thought it meant God scorches
within us, and God, like a torch,
can go out. That was so long ago.
I’ve since ceased my believing in death—
there’s no such thing.
There’s only a kind of brownout,
the whole of the globe turning
off for a moment, then shuddering
back, the same as it was,
except one person short.
And then before long, an utter new
person is born. Somebody worse.
Then they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation and Egypt their glory.
Pulsating freak anemones’
Permanent Egyptian bondage:
Eggman dragging Pharaoh’s ark . . .
Droning superficial sondage
Rises in black light of dark.
It’s Pharoah’s sub-Erythrean grave !
Sun Ra drones within the vault;
Atonal mode that cannot save . . .
(This is all Chad Van Gaalen’s fault.)
write a poem inspired by this animated version of Seductive Fantasy by Sun Ra and his Arkestra.
The Weather is dull, all Flora, withered—
Into Poetry’s ruins snakes have slithered;
Customs forgotten, sick mammals slain.
Now vampires infect me: porn on the brain…
While Disney exports multicultural trash
The vatos and thugs burn the barrio to ash.
Yet my lovely muse lifts me above the crisis:
Revealing conspiracy as rational analysis;
In her shimmering shroud, she defies the fates.
My hometown nostalgia out-bunkers Bill Gates;
I look out my window. Joy turns to mass death:
Old love-letters blown on Corona-breath.
I hide unicorn carcasses from my daughter.
Instead, we read Exodus: angels, plagues, slaughter.
She’s too young to know what is sold in the street
Or whether Hondurans arrive on their feet
And if what they carry is bitter or sweet . . .
Our online Amazon: jungle or obituary?
Webster just shrugs. It’s not in his dictionary.
fill out the following Almanac Questionnaire.
Use your responses as the basis for a poem.
Mammals/reptiles/fish: snakes and pangolins
Childhood dream: Dracula
Found on the Street: porn mags
Graffiti: Chicano gangs
Lover: my muse
Conspiracy: rational analysis
Hometown memory: nostalgia
Notable person: BIll Gates
Outside your window, you find: joy
Today’s news headline: mass death
Scrap from a letter: thrown out
Animal from a myth: unicorn
Story read to children at night: Exodus
Walk three minutes down an alley and find: heroin
You walk to the border and hear: scheming Hondurans
What you fear: consumerism
Picture on your city’s postcard: Noah Webster