112+ Best Nikki Giovanni Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Yolande Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni Jr. is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Profoundly inspirational Nikki Giovanni quotes will challenge the way you think, and help guide you through any life experience.

If you’re searching for poetry quotes that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of quotes from Pablo Neruda, powerful E. E. Cummings quotes and famous Robert Frost quotes.

Famous Nikki Giovanni Quotes

Style has a profound meaning to Black Americans. If we can’t drive, we will invent walks and the world will envy the dexterity of our feet. If we can’t have ham, we will boil chitterlings; if we are given rotten peaches, we will make cobblers; if given scraps, we will make quilts; take away our drums, and we will clap our hands. We prove the human spirit will prevail. We will take what we have to make what we need. We need confidence in our knowledge of who we are. – Nikki Giovanni

The more you love someone the more he wants from you and the less you have to give since you’ve already given him your love. – Nikki Giovanni

Photographers direct the eye toward a particular object. We who write, one hopes, are directing the heart and the soul. – Nikki Giovanni

I just think she was a wonderful woman. What I think of when I think of Nina [Simone] is someone that I could relate to, who didn’t want anything from me, that could relate to me because I didn’t want anything from her. It was nice. – Nikki Giovanni

His headstone said FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST But death is a slave’s freedom We seek the freedom of free men And the construction of a world Where Martin Luther King could have lived and preached nonviolence. – Nikki Giovanni

We are better than we think and not yet what we want to be. – Nikki Giovanni

go barefoot and be warm all the time not only when you go to bed and sleep – Nikki Giovanni

We just didn’t put any pressure on each other, and I think that everybody needs somebody, and I didn’t do it to try to do it; it’s what we [with Nina Simone] were to each other. – Nikki Giovanni

She knows who she is, because she knows who she isn’t. – Nikki Giovanni

In the name of peace They waged the wars ain’t they got no shame – Nikki Giovanni

I am ever fascinated by the human experience and by, actually, human beings. – Nikki Giovanni

I prefer her [Nina Simone’s] jazz period much more so than her folk period. – Nikki Giovanni

The unwillingness to try is worse than any failure. – Nikki Giovanni

I am so hip even my errors are correct. – Nikki Giovanni

We need to make sure our children travel to see things. Not necessarily long distances but at least out of the neighborhood. On a train. A boat. An airplane. – Nikki Giovanni

I like what they’re doing. I think they’re doing a good job, and I know that a lot of people are upset by them. These are great young men and women, and they’re bold, and they are saying to America, Something’s going to change. I’m very proud of them. – Nikki Giovanni

We obviously need the truth. We’re living in a country of lies. – Nikki Giovanni

I’m an old storyteller. I tell the story. It’s about the story. – Nikki Giovanni

I’ve not learned the acceptable way of saying you fascinate me…I’ve not even learned how to say I like you without frightening people away. – Nikki Giovanni

And sometimes I sit down at my typewriter and I think not of someone cause there isn’t anyone to think about and I wonder is it worth it – Nikki Giovanni

I am honest; I try to be truthful. I like people and wish us well. We are not always deserving of our own best wishes. – Nikki Giovanni

There are some things we do simply because the doing is a success. – Nikki Giovanni

Art is not for the cultivated taste. It is to cultivate taste. – Nikki Giovanni

I always like summer best – Nikki Giovanni

And you will understand all too soon That you, my children of battle, are your heroes – Nikki Giovanni

Poetry is the most mistaught subject in any school because we teach poetry by form and not by content. – Nikki Giovanni

Schools should serve breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. No sugared drinks, no fast type food. – Nikki Giovanni

The poet can only write the poems; it takes the reader to complete the meaning. – Nikki Giovanni

My dream is a red dress Above my knees High-heel red sandals And me coming over the top The music booming Hi Howie I will say With a lovely smile I don’t want to play the game I want to be it. – Nikki Giovanni

Who I am really keeps surprising me. – Nikki Giovanni

Don’t want to be near you for the thoughts we share but the words we never have to speak. – Nikki Giovanni

Ever been kidnapped by a poet if i were a poet i’d kidnap you put you in my phrases and meter. – Nikki Giovanni

I wish that she had had a black loon because I don’t think that Nina [Simone] did. I have always had – I’ve been very fortunate – a group of little old ladies that I love and who love me, and who turned and to whom I turn at different times. – Nikki Giovanni

War is not a jobs program. – Nikki Giovanni

A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it. – Nikki Giovanni

Poetry is music though, unfortunately, not all music is poetry. Because music has other carriers to take its message – beats, lyrics, singers, bass players – anyone in music can rise to make a major statement but in poetry there are only words to do the work. And they do sometimes have to sweat. – Nikki Giovanni

There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect. – Nikki Giovanni

The job of the architect becomes more difficult in this secular age. Where once he had a god to extol, he now has humans like himself; where once he had he, he now has she and they. – Nikki Giovanni

I grow old though pleased with my memories The tasks I can no longer complete Are balanced by the love of the tasks gone past I offer no apology only this plea: When I am frayed and strained and drizzle at the end Please someone cut a square and put me in a quilt That I might keep some child warm And some old person with no one else to talk to Will hear my whispers And cuddle near – Nikki Giovanni

I want to be clear about this. If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy. – Nikki Giovanni

It’s not a ladder we’re climbing, it’s literature we’re producing. . . . We cannot possibly leave it to history as a discipline nor to sociology nor science nor economics to tell the story of our people. – Nikki Giovanni

I’m a big fan of history—applying the lessons as well as the joys and sadness. If we pay attention, we would see how we affect each other. In terms of time, we are not that far from one another. If we were to look back a century, it would seem like a long time; but, if we look at it by decades then it’s only 10 years, and by generations it’s only five. – Nikki Giovanni

We must invest in tomorrow. And pay our teachers for teaching as we pay our coaches for coaching. – Nikki Giovanni

I spend a lot of time learning about bird watching. – Nikki Giovanni

Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a moment, it will not be created for years or even generations. – Nikki Giovanni

If everybody became a poet the world would be much better. We would all read to each other. – Nikki Giovanni

Fanatics are, for one thing, boring and, for another, unreliable. They tend to burn out just when you need them. – Nikki Giovanni

All systems require myths for their longevity. – Nikki Giovanni

Now, everything I do, I do because I want to. And I believe the best is yet to come. – Nikki Giovanni

I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try. – Nikki Giovanni

You know a person is having a severe personality crisis if you see a high school class ring on a finger beyond the first semester in college. Male or female. It’s a big sign saying nothing has mattered to my life since senior year. – Nikki Giovanni

The ability to take pride in your own work is one of the hallmarks of sanity. – Nikki Giovanni

The future is in good hands. – Nikki Giovanni

I had a really nice childhood; I had great parents. I earned my allowance by washing dishes, and in the summer I earned my allowance by working in daddy’s garden. – Nikki Giovanni

You do what you can with what you have. You have to work the edges whatever they are. The main thing is keeping your integrity. – Nikki Giovanni

God knows it’s a sign of a really sick mind to see grown people, adults with responsibilities, wearing class rings. – Nikki Giovanni

I think speeches and fruit should always be fresh. – Nikki Giovanni

I move on feeling and have learned to distrust those who don’t. – Nikki Giovanni

We love because it’s the only true adventure. – Nikki Giovanni

You’re only as good as your last book. – Nikki Giovanni

But nonviolence was never for the oppressor; it was for the oppressed. – Nikki Giovanni

In law school they teach you that everything is a contract; well, in poetry everything is a narrative. – Nikki Giovanni

For most of my life, I’ve thought of myself as pretty cool. – Nikki Giovanni

Art offers sanctuary to everyone willing to open their Hearts as well as their Eyes. – Nikki Giovanni

The trip to Mars can only be understood through Black Americans. I say, the trip to Mars can only be understood through Black Americans. – Nikki Giovanni

The only way you can grow is to let yourself make mistakes and create contradictions. As we learn new things, some of our old attitudes will change. – Nikki Giovanni

A lot is yet to be enjoyed. I’d like to stomp grapes for wine. Go to Antarctica. Have dinner with Venus Williams who is the greatest tennis player ever. – Nikki Giovanni

If I can’t do what I want to do, then my job is to not do what I want to do. It’s not the same thing, but it’s the best thing I can do. – Nikki Giovanni

I am proud of the hip hop generation. They are good business people and, actually, good people. It’s strange that the only time the major press talks about them is when someone gets killed or does drugs or something; yet these are the same press people who made heroes out of the Mafia and other crooks, you know. – Nikki Giovanni

We have a world to conquer…one person at a time…starting with ourselves. – Nikki Giovanni

School should be eleven months of the year. – Nikki Giovanni

I have not tried to tell the people anything. I have shared my views with the people but I have not tried to lead or correct them, assuming they need correction. – Nikki Giovanni

Everybody that loves freedom loves Harriet Tubman because she was determined not only to be free, but to make free as many people as she could. – Nikki Giovanni

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again. – Nikki Giovanni

I used to dream militant dreams of taking over america to show these whitefolks how it should be done i used to dream radical dreams of blowing everyone away with my perceptive powers of correct analysis i even used to think that i’d be the one to stop the riot and negotiate the peace then i awoke & dug that if i dreamed natural dreams of being a natural woman doing what a woman does when she’s natural i would have a revolution. – Nikki Giovanni

I try to impress upon my students the importance of looking, listening… paying attention, in other words. You must pay attention. – Nikki Giovanni

Young people coming up who are having difficulty with their so-called celebrity need to get back into their lives. It’s your life and you can’t let the fact that you do something pretty good take away the joy of it. – Nikki Giovanni

Poems don’t have to rhyme… Poems are about beauty and emotion; in other words poems are about feelings. – Nikki Giovanni

I am a huge fan of the Black woman. I never hesitate to recommend her when times are bad or things go wrong. – Nikki Giovanni

We believe ‘Peter Rabbit’ because Beatrix Potter believes it. You have to. – Nikki Giovanni

America may not be the best nation on earth, but it has conceived loftier ideals and dreamed higher dreams than any other nation. America is a heterogeneous nation of many different people of different races, religions, and creeds. Should this experiment go forth and prosper, we will have offered humans a new way to look at life; should it fail, we will simply go the way of all failed civilizations. – Nikki Giovanni

There’re two people in the world that are not likeable: a master and a slave. – Nikki Giovanni

Nothing improves your writing, I think, as much as your keeping writing. – Nikki Giovanni

Deal with yourself as a individual, worthy of respect and make everyone else deal with you the same way. – Nikki Giovanni

Once you know who you are, you don’t have to worry anymore. – Nikki Giovanni

What’s the difference between dragging a black man behind a truck in Jasper, Texas, and beating a white boy to death in Wyoming because he’s gay? – Nikki Giovanni

Black Poetry is not for Black People…it is for everybody – Nikki Giovanni

We are less lonely when we connect. Art is connection. – Nikki Giovanni

I am a big fan of the electronic book. I hate to see the old bookstores close, but they have to reinvent themselves. I believe the First Edition bookstore will be the next thing. People will read electronically, then decide they want to own that book. The author will then be invited to the old bookstores to sign. I think books will always be with us, but they will fill a different need. – Nikki Giovanni

The catchword I use with my classes is: The authority of the writer always overcomes the skepticism of the reader. – Nikki Giovanni

Black love is Black wealth and they’ll probably talk about my hard childhood and never understand that all the while I was quite happy – Nikki Giovanni

Most of my books are a two-year project. I tend to follow my heart and my mind and research materials where they take me. – Nikki Giovanni

If you are sitting there waiting for someone to tell you how wonderful you are, you’ll never get anything done. Women need to get over being women. I’m tired of that socialization of women; that we are always supposed to be sitting around pleasing somebody. – Nikki Giovanni

Life is a process where people mix and match, fall apart and come back together. – Nikki Giovanni

Language instruction should start in the first grade. Writing, also. – Nikki Giovanni

I love you because no two snowflakes are alike, and it is possible, if you stand tippy-toe, to walk between the raindrops. – Nikki Giovanni

I am totally fascinated by people and our history as I understand and continue to explore it. People have so much to give and so far to go and yet we have given and gone a great distance. It’s really just interesting to ask: why not? And see where that takes me. – Nikki Giovanni

Show me someone not full of herself and I’ll show you a hungry person. – Nikki Giovanni

I appreciate my my sleep In sleep my conversation is witty My home is dusted My office work is up to date The dog is even well behaved And food is on the table on time But then when I’m asleep I don’t have you to clutter and confuse My hungry heart – Nikki Giovanni

Iife/personality must be taken as a total entity. All of your life is all of your life, and no one incident stands alone. – Nikki Giovanni

Nina Simone’s music is incredibly honest. That’s like saying, Why does Jesus’ word still stay around? It’s incredibly honest and it’s good. – Nikki Giovanni

You must be unintimidated by your own thoughts. – Nikki Giovanni

I was responding to one thing for the woman I knew, and there’s another thing for what did she give, right. She [Nina Simone] was a great teacher. – Nikki Giovanni

You have to use what you have in order to get what you need and the people can not be rich unless somebody is rich. The Hip-Hop generation has carried more people with it than any other enterprise Black Americans have had. – Nikki Giovanni

Favorite poems are like favorite children. We definitely have them but we never tell as the others would have their feelings hurt. – Nikki Giovanni

Death is a slave’s freedom. – Nikki Giovanni

Rage is to writers what water is to fish. – Nikki Giovanni

Poetry and music are very good friends. Like mommies and daddies and strawberries and cream – they go together. – Nikki Giovanni

When younger, I thought one of the particulars of being Homo sapiens was to communicate. I have not learned not to, though I am cautious when I try. – Nikki Giovanni

Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts. – Nikki Giovanni

White people really deal more with God and black people with Jesus. – Nikki Giovanni

Sacred cows make very poor gladiators. – Nikki Giovanni

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