Liz McCormick Published

Poet Nikki Giovanni Says W.Va. Should Be Celebrated


Poet and activist Nikki Giovanni  loves several things about Appalachia: its defense of freedom, and how the people here know when enough is enough in regards to material wealth.

Giovanni was the Writer-in-Residence for Shepherd University’s 2015 Appalachian Heritage Festival.

Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on June 7, 1943, but spent most of her early years in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1958, she moved back to Knoxville, where she lived with her grandparents.

She would later go on to receive her undergraduate degree from Fisk University in Nashville and attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

While growing up, Giovanni experienced segregation and became active in the Civil Rights Movement, which influenced much of her work.

Today, Giovanni lives in Virginia and is a professor at Virginia Tech.

Shepherd University’s Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence is sponsored by the West Virginia Humanities Council and Shepherd’s Appalachian Studies Program.