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A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter by Nikki Giovanni

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Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and spent summers there with her grandparents while staying with her parents in Cincinnati most school years, though she graduated from Austin High School in Knoxville. From there she attended Fisk University until she was expelled for her participation in Civil Rights activity. Later reinstated, she graduated from Fisk and moved to New York City where she was involved in the Black Arts Movement. Her first poetry was self-published, but soon picked up by major publishers. In 2011, she read a poem at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D. C., and she has been named Woman of the Year by four women’s magazines. She has received nineteen honorary degrees. Her classes at Virginia Tech sit in a circle, and when I attended one, she introduced me to each of her students conveying impressive knowledge of the backgrounds and interests of each. A Good Cry  contains both poems and prose vignettes. She calls on inner city and Appalachian youth to “dream of new frontiers” and even proposes that high school end in the 10th grade and college last for six years, including community service and study abroad. Addressing an eclectic array of subjects in this book, she honors the late Maya Angelou and other friends, attributes a rightful place to hip-hop within African-American culture, and looks back on her own life. Library Journal gave A Good Cry  a starred review summing it up this way: “Plainspoken, moving, and direct, the multi-award-winning poet Giovanni draws a revealing line between heart and history in this 27th collection.”

New York: William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2017. 111 pages. Hardback in dust jacket