Poetic Space Marker

Looking realistically at my schedule the next several days, I just don’t see the possibility of any new entries in my Nina Simone series. So in the meantime I thought I’d post a poem that was written by poet Nikki Giovanni for the awkwardly titled but otherwise excellent compilation album Nina Simone Forever Young, Gifted & Black: Songs of Freedom of Spirit.

FOR NINA
[Forever Young, Gifted, and Black]

by Nikki Giovanni

Howl, Baby
Pull the moon
Down and squeeze
’til there’s no
More pain

Tomorrow is coming

Take them to church
on Friday nights…
make them hear the
words and bow down

Make them beg for forgiveness

Tell the truth, my good sister
Don’t stop just because it hurts
Tell the truth and
let the cooling waters
Let the tears
Fall Down
Let us cleanse our evil souls
With the West Wind

Call the out, Girl
Tell them they have to sing with you
Have to sing with Lorraine
Have to sing with Langston
Have to sing for Schwerner,
Chaney and Goodman

Sure the feds will try to trap you
Sure the feds will run you out
of the country
Yes J. Edgar Hoover will
ruin your career
With the same lies he told on King

But you weren’t singing
You weren’t playing
You weren’t giving a damn
For the grammarphones
They offered

You were singing
For a higher power
To a higher power
Needing a higher power
To sing you home

You are forever Young
Gifted and Black
You are forever righteous
You are forever Nina

Howl, Baby
Call down the sun
To scorch the lies
Call down the stars
to write the truth
Call down Call down Call down
And we will worship
At the altar

Until next week…

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2 thoughts on “Poetic Space Marker

  1. Great poem — hey if you don’t have time to offer your own words it’s just as well to offer others!

    Interestingly, as I read that poem I could hear Nina Simone’s voice chanting it. The lyrics read like the kind of song she would sing.

    Bizarre factoid about Nikki Giovanni — she is a faculty at Virginia Tech and taught a creative writing class attended by the young man who killed 32 people. In fact she kicked him out of the class for making racist remarks and harrassing fellow students.

  2. Thanks Kevin, and I completely agree–Giovanni did a great job of capturing Simone and all of her intensity and passion. The first lines of the last stanza really get to me.

    And I was aware of the Giovanni/Virginia Tech connection–I was reading an article and it dropped her name, and I was like “whaaaa?” Bizarre.

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