Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An Afternoon with Nikki Giovanni

This afternoon we welcomed Nikki Giovanni to Richmond Public Library as part of our Teen Summer Reading Program. Natasha and I got to do the welcoming remarks and it was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. What an incredible experience.

Nikki was funny, honest and held nothing back. You could tell that the 200+ members of the audience really connected with her as they laughed with her. Even though there were mostly teens present, there were several adults of all ages, and even after putting out more chairs it was still standing room only at the end. She read four poems for us, the first two being I Am a Native Tennessean and Nikki-Rosa.

She spoke to the teen audience about the importance of education and of going to college. 'You can't afford to be stupid, and that no one can afford to go, but you have to make it happen. You have to make your dreams happen.' You are "not in school to make grades. You are there to change the world. That is your goal."

Like all authors, she also gave a little advice to those who were aspiring writers. "How many of you have seen an object on the street and come up with a story about how it got there?" You have to have something to say. "It is up to you to find the narrative of your own life."

As someone who just turned 30, I was especially pleased that she told the teens that even though you are told that these years are the best of your life, they aren't. That your 40s and 50s are. 42 is especially wonderful. Marian Anderson was 42 when she sang on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial. Rosa Parks was 42 when she refused to give up her seat on the bus. So, at least I can look forward to a magical year and a great decade!

My favorite piece of advice that she gave was this "if they don't like you, they don't get to hurt your feelings." If they are saying that, then the probably already didn't like you anyways. "You can't let people who don't love you, hurt you, or describe what you do."

Ending the program with her fourth reading of Ego Trippin, you would have thought we were at a rock concert. The crowd erupted like their favorite number one hit was being performed, and even recited some of the lines with her!

Helping to make an event like this happen, and getting to be a part of it is one of the many reasons why I love being a librarian. Thank you Nikki for such a wonderful and inspirational afternoon!

Natasha, me, Nikki and Sarah

1 comment:

  1. I very much enjoyed the event and you & your colleague did a great job with the introduction!