Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Poems, Comfort, and Nikki Giovanni

Along with everyone else, I’ve been following the unfolding of events at Virginia Tech with shock and sadness. As a college professor, it’s unnerving to think of a campus as unsafe. As a parent of college-age children, it’s even more terrifying. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those coping with the aftermath. I also remembered that there’s a poet on that campus. Nikki Giovanni has been on the faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia since 1987. I believe she will be participating in the convocation planned there shortly. How lovely to have a poet participating in this grieving process. I looked quickly for one of her poems to showcase at this moment and found this one.

The World Is Not A Pleasant Place To Be
by Nikki Giovanni

the world is not a pleasant place
to be without
someone to hold and be held by

a river would stop
its flow if only
a stream were there
to receive it

an ocean would never laugh
if clouds weren't there
to kiss her tears

the world is not
a pleasant place to be without

Here are a few collections of poetry for young people with poems that I find comforting during difficult times.

Georgia Heard. This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort
Naomi Shihab Nye. What Have You Lost
Nancy Willard. Step Lightly: Poems for the Journey
Arnold Adoff. Love Letters
Francisco X. Alarcon. Poems to Dream Together
Nikki Grimes. Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems
Pat Mora. Love to Mama: A Tribute to Mothers
Langston Hughes. The Dreamkeeper
Cynthia Rylant. God Went to Beauty School

Picture credit: www.tbcs.org.uk


Sylvia Vardell said...

From closing remarks by Nikki Giovanni at the Convocation at Virginia Tech on April 17, 2007

we are not moving on

we are embracing our mourning

we are sad enough to know we must laugh again

no one deserves a tragedy

we are better than we think and not quite what we want to be

we will continue to invent the future

we will prevail

Anonymous said...

It was sad how she tried to politicize the event.

Sylvia Vardell said...

Did you really think so? I thought it was an interesting connection with suffering everywhere woven into a salute to the community itself.