Nationally Acclaimed Poet to Speak at Concord College

For Immediate Release: 
Mar 21 2002

Nationally Acclaimed Poet to Speak at Concord College

Athens, W.Va. - Nationally acclaimed poet, author, and educator, Nikki Giovanni, will speak at Concord College on Wednesday, April 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the Alexander Fine Arts Theatre as guest author for the annual Louise McNeill Pease Memorial Reading, an Artist/Lecture Series event. Copies of Giovanni’s books will be available for purchase at the reading and she will be available for book signings afterwards. A reception will also follow the reading.

Giovanni, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., moved with her family to Cincinnati when she was two years old. She earned her B.A. at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., graduating with honors. She also attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Giovanni was an associate professor of English at Rutgers University and later a professor of creative writing at Mount St. Joseph-on-the-Ohio in Mount St. Joseph, Ohio. A prominent figure in the 1960s black literary Renaissance, Giovanni has earned an international reputation as a poet, essayist, and lecturer. Her first three books of poetry, Black Feeling, Black Talk (1968), Black Judgement (1968), and Re: Creation (1970), aimed to awaken people to the beauty of blackness by blending introspection with social and political activism. In 1969, Giovanni shifted her focus to children’s poetry while continuing to write for adults. Her autobiography, Gemini (1971), was nominated for the 1973 National Book Award. Giovanni then moved to Blacksburg where she is currently a University Distinguished Professor at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Nikki Giovanni holds a total of 17 honorary degrees from nationwide universities. She also has been named woman of the year by Ebony Magazine, Mademoiselle Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, and the Cincinnati chapter of the YWCA. She holds keys to several cities including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, and New Orleans.

Other awards Giovanni received include the Outstanding Woman of Tennessee, the Silver Apple Award for the Oakland Museum Film Festival, the Ohioana Library Award for Sacred Cows, the Children’s Reading Roundtable of Chicago Award for Vacation Time, the Tennessee Writer’s Award for Nashville Runner, the Tennessee Governor’s Award in the Humanities, the Langston Hughes Award, the NAACP Image Award for Love Poems, the Appalachian Medallion Award, the Tennessee Governor’s Award in the Arts, the NAACP Image Award for Blues: For All the Changes, and the Virginia Governor’s Award for the Arts. She has also been inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, the Gihon Foundation’s 2000 Council of Ideas, and has received a Life Membership and Scroll from the National Council of Negro Women.

Dr. Martha Shrewsbury and her students in this semester’s special topics course on Louise McNeill Pease (division of languages and literature) will host a seminar discussing Louise McNeill Pease’s life, literary works, and her contributions to Appalachia. The seminar will take place April 3 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Marsh Hall room 237 (the same day as the Giovanni lecture).

For more information contact Dr. John Baker at 1-304-384-5207 or Dr. Martha Shrewsbury at 1-304-384-5143.


Concord College Notes: Persons with disabilities should contact Rick Dillon, 1-304-384-5276 or Alice Dillon, 1-304-384-5177, if special accommodations are required for this event.

Dr. Louise McNeill Pease was born in 1911 on a Pocahontas County farm, which had been in her family since 1769. She was a 1936 Concord graduate and later served the College as a member of the English faculty. She was appointed Poet Laureate of the State of West Virginia in 1979, and held the position until her death in 1993.

Books written by Pease include: Mountain White, Gauley Mountain, Elderberry Flood, Time Is Our House, From a Dark Mountain, Paradox Hill, From Appalachian to Lunar Shore, The Great Kanawha River in the Old South, Hill Daughter, and her memoir, Milkweed Ladies.

Jessica Taylor wrote this press release. Her hometown is Beckley, W.Va. She is majoring in English/writing with a minor in journalism. Her anticipated graduation date is May 2003.