I'm paraphrasing, but a few Nikki takeaways that gave me goosebumps...
Don't let others tell you who you are.
Find your own voice.
Trust your voice.
Writers move the world forward.
Learn to cry.
I also heard things like this:
Nikki Giovanni is my spirit animal!
I want to be her!
She is awesome!
Does she really have a Thug Life tattoo?
Guys: it was a special morning, and I'm grateful we had the opportunity. As you know, I've been a Nikki FAN for a decade or more, and to have this most amazing woman in front of us with her humor and grace and unselfconscious storytelling, well...it was awesome.
Here are a few pics. If you have others or better quality, please share!
So: I ended up finding out a bit more about Utopias and I thought you might find it interesting, too. If you are, here is I Drank a $200 Bottle of Sam Adams for Science. And here is a short essay by Ms. Giovanni about Utopia. You may also find Nikki Giovanni's long list of accolades interesting, as well some of her other poetry.
One of my favorites of all time ever (and the one that introduced me to her work) is Kidnap Poem, which goes a little somethin' like this:
ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i'd kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
you to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in the red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i'd kid
I've never gotten over that last line break. Like a note in your favorite song, it'll never get old.
And this gets me thinking, guys (and gets me longwinded, too, I'm noticing), that you of the AP Literature and Composition caliber should read and be encouraged to discover poetry on your own. There will be time for the great, cannonized "gotta-reads." But I don't think we encourage you students enough to get after poetry the way it's meant to be encountered -- in the wild world and in your own wild life.
If nothing else, I hope this experience encourages you to do just that.