Nikki Giovanni inducted as inaugural writer in residence of the Toni Morrison writing program at Prairie View A&M University – The Hilltop


Nikki Giovanni, photo courtesy of The Creative Independent

On September 27, Nikki Giovanni, poet, activist, educator and HBCU graduate, became the inaugural writer in residence of the Toni Morrison Writing Program at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), a public HBCU in rural Texas.

The purpose of this program is to educate and appreciate African American literature. The writing program was established by President Ruth Simmons in honor of esteemed African-American author, Toni Morrison, with assistance from Morrison’s alumnus MacKenzie Scott. Scott, a novelist herself, donated $ 50 million to PVAMU last fall, and the university has set aside $ 3 million specifically for the implementation of this program.

Having Giovanni as his first writer-in-residence sparks excitement among students and faculty alike.

“I think Nikki Giovanni’s new position as Writer-in-Residence for the Toni Morrison Program is a great idea. It will bring a new aspect to writing, especially for young African Americans, ”said Trinity Wiley, a freshman civil engineering student at PVAMU.

Ymitri Mathison, PhD, Head of the Languages ​​and Communications Department, expressed similar sentiments, explaining how Giovanni will impact students at PVAMU.

Mathison said, “She will be a role model for our students and inspire our budding writers. It will help our students see the value of poetry in their everyday lives. She will be an inspiration to them.

Giovanni has written critically acclaimed works such as: “Black Feeling”, “Black Talk”, “My House”, “Racism 101”, “Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day” and many other collections and books of poetry. . She has also received several awards throughout her career, including the NAACP Image Award, the Langston Hughes Award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters, and over 20 honorary degrees from universities across the country.

However, it’s not just his full resume and accolades that make Giovanni a standout candidate for this role. Giovanni was also heavily involved in the civil rights movement.

“Many of her past awards have recognized her contributions to raising awareness of social issues, and this resonates strongly with our students,” said Dorie Gilbert, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

According to Emma Johanne Thomas-Smith, having a writer who knows both social work and writing is important for the job, as the writer-in-residence will be responsible for going beyond the PVAMU hill and into the community. local. , provost emeritus of the university and overseer of Toni Morrison’s writing program.

The duties of the writer-in-residence are as follows: “writing competitions in which high school graduates win university scholarships, summer creative writing workshops, forming writing clubs and reading and creating diploma programs, ”said Thomas-Smith. “His vast body of work, his extensive work with other literary artists, publishers, educators and his incredible ability to keep his work up to date as the world around him changes, leads him to offer invaluable advice,” she continued.

The official induction ceremony took place at 6 p.m. on September 27. The closed event was broadcast live exclusively for students, faculty and staff of PVAMU.

Copy edited by: N’dia Webb


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