• A Good Cry

A Good Cry

One of America’s most celebrated poets looks inward in this powerful collection, a rumination on her life and the people who have shaped her

The poetry of Nikki Giovanni has spurred movements, turned hearts and informed generations. She’s been hailed as a firebrand, a radical, a healer, and a sage; a wise and courageous voice who has spoken out on the sensitive issues, including race and gender, that touch our national consciousness.

As energetic and relevant as ever, Nikki now offers us an intimate, affecting, and illuminating look at her personal history and the mysteries of her own heart. In A Good Cry, she takes us into her confidence, describing the joy and peril of aging and recalling the violence that permeated her parents’ marriage and her early life. She pays homage to the people who have given her life meaning and joy: her grandparents, who took her in and saved her life; the poets and thinkers who have influenced her; and the students who have surrounded her. Nikki also celebrates her good friend, Maya Angelou, and the many years of friendship, poetry, and kitchen-table laughter they shared before Angelou’s death in 2014.

“I had no idea
Grandmother had to beg
A white man to let me
enroll in Austin High
Where I needed clothes
From Miller and Rich’s
Shoes a coat and stuff
All I knew then
Was the sound
Of my father hitting
My mother every Saturday
Night until I heard
Her say ‘Gus, please
Don’t hit me.’
And I knew my choice: Leave or kill him
Both were sad
I am in the hospital
With yellow tulips
From Nancy and Diana
And a beautiful bouquet
From the English Department
I am trying to learn
how to cry
It’s not that my life
has been a lie
But that I repressed
My tears.”
—From Baby West

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