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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

World-Renowned Poet Nikki Giovanni to Speak at Lauralton Wednesday night

Lauralton Hall is honored to host distinguished poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator Nikki Giovanni on Wednesday, March 30 at 7pm in the Claven Auditorium. She is the third and final speaker of the 2010-2011 season to participate in the school’s inaugural year of an “In-Residence” Program. The program began in October with a visit from United Nations Director of Mercy Global Concern Deirdre Mullan, RSM followed in November by Emily Dickinson scholar Dr. Jonnie Guerra. “Residency programs add depth to a school’s usual curriculum,” notes President Iadarola. Lauralton parents, alumnae, friends and the public at large are welcome to attend. Admission is free. Space is limited. For reservations, please contact the Development Office at (203) 877-2786, ext.137 or by email at

Nikki Giovanni’s engagement at Lauralton is made possible thanks in part to the generosity of a community grant from the Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation. One of the most widely-read American poets in the world, Ms. Giovanni first came to prominence during the civil rights movement with her forthright examinations of race and injustice. Since then, she has received numerous honors and awards and authored several children’s books in addition to her many poetic works, essays and spoken recordings. Over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing she has come to be called both a "National Treasure" and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey's twenty-five "Living Legends." Several of her books were honored with NAACP Image Awards and have reached the best-seller lists. She has been a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech since 1987 where she teaches writing and literature. To learn more about Nikki Giovanni, visit

About Lauralton Hall
Founded in 1905, the Academy of Our Lady of Mercy, Lauralton Hall, is the oldest college preparatory high school for girls in Connecticut. Empowering women for life, more than 400 students from throughout New Haven and Fairfield counties attend. Lauralton Hall’s unique mission is to foster a community atmosphere enriched by the Mercy tradition and to educate young women to pursue knowledge, recognize truth and respond to the needs of others.

Nikki Giovanni Biography

Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Over the past thirty years, her outspokenness, in her writing and in lectures, has brought the eyes of the world upon her. One of the most widely-read American poets, she prides herself on being "a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English." Giovanni remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the Black community. Her focus is on the individual, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others.
NIKKI GIOVANNI was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She and her sister spent their summers with their grandparents in Knoxville, and she graduated with honors from Fisk University, her grandfather's alma mater, in 1968; after graduating from Fisk, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk, in 1968, and within the next year published a second book, thus launching her career as a writer. Early in her career she was dubbed the "Princess of Black Poetry," and over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing she has come to be called both a "National Treasure" and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey's twenty-five "Living Legends."

Many of Giovanni's books have received honors and awards. Her autobiography, Gemini, was a finalist for the National Book Award; Love Poems, Blues: For All the Changes, Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, Acolytes, and Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat were all honored with NAACP Image Awards. Blues: For All the Changes reached #4 on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller list, a rare achievement for a book of poems. Most recently, her children's picture book Rosa, about the civil rights legend Rosa Parks, became a Caldecott Honors Book, and Bryan Collier, the illustrator, was given the Coretta Scott King award for best illustration. Rosa also reached #3 on The New York Times Bestseller list. Shortly after its release, Bicycles: Love Poems reached #1 on for Poetry.

Giovanni's spoken word recordings have also achieved widespread recognition and honors. Her album Truth Is On Its Way, on which she reads her poetry against a background of gospel music, was a top 100 album and received the Best Spoken Word Album given by the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers. Her Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, on which she reads and talks about her poetry, was one of five finalists for a Grammy Award.

Giovanni's honors and awards have been steady and plentiful throughout her career. The recipient of some twenty-five honorary degrees, she has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony Magazine. She was tapped for the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame and named an Outstanding Woman of Tennessee. Giovanni has also received Governor's Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia. She was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and she has also been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and has received Life Membership and Scroll from The National Council of Negro Women. A member of PEN, she was honored for her life and career by The History Makers. She has received the keys to more than two dozen cities. A scientist who admires her work even named a new species of bat he discovered for her! Black Enterprise named her a Women of Power Legacy Award winner for work that expands opportunities for other women of color.

The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Nikki Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.


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