An original and compelling history, spanning five centuries, of the island that became an obsession for many presidents and policy makers, transforming how we think about the U.S. in Latin America, and Cuba in American society.
A searing first-person illustrated account of an artist’s life during the 1950s and 1960s in an unreconstructed corner of the deep South–an account of abuse, endurance, imagination, and aesthetic transformation.
A virtuosic collection that inventively expands the sonnet form to confront the messy contradictions of contemporary America, including the beauty and the difficulty of working-class life in the Rust Belt.
An affecting, deeply reported account of a girl who comes of age during New York City’s homeless crisis–a portrait of resilience amid institutional failure that successfully merges literary narrative with policy analysis.
“Including just one hundred would only get me to the 1970s,” says Giovanni, a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech. “I definitely wanted to get some younger voices in too so there are actually 220 poems but they’re only numbered from one to a hundred.”
And so Giovanni’s diverse collection of poetic voices includes poems not only by Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks and Mari Evans but also Tupac Shakur.
“Anybody who knows anything about me knows that I love Tupac and I’m not the only one,” says Giovanni. “This is an incredibly important young man. Tupac’s been dead 10 years and people still treat him as if they know him. Because of the power of that young man, we had to include him. My admiration is based on his talent. How could we not honor him?”
Accompanying the book of poems is a CD where such luminaries as actresses Ruby Dee and Novella Nelson as well as Giovanni and the president of Virginia Tech read some of the poems.
“It’s so you can read the book and also stick the CD in your car and hear them,” says Giovanni. “That’s great for people who like to read poems and for those who like to hear them.”
The book is dedicated to “The Aunt” by Mari Evans, a poem that Giovanni describes as one of her favorites.
“That’s what I used for the dedication –– my only living aunt. Instead of writing something, I used that poem,” says Giovanni. “I just love it. First of all, my mom has passed. I’m not a little girl anymore, but after losing your mom, your aunt is the one who comes in and let’s you know you are loved and helps you bury your mother. Mari wrote that about her mother. It’s a lovely sentiment. I could have stuck it anywhere in the book, but I wanted it where it is, because you open up the book and you get this poem as a dedication. It’s just beautiful.”