Nikki-Rosa

By Nikki Giovanni b. 1943 Nikki Giovanni
childhood remembrances are always a drag   
if you’re Black
you always remember things like living in Woodlawn   
with no inside toilet
and if you become famous or something
they never talk about how happy you were to have   
your mother
all to yourself and
how good the water felt when you got your bath   
from one of those
big tubs that folk in chicago barbecue in   
and somehow when you talk about home   
it never gets across how much you
understood their feelings
as the whole family attended meetings about Hollydale
and even though you remember
your biographers never understand
your father’s pain as he sells his stock   
and another dream goes
And though you’re poor it isn’t poverty that
concerns you
and though they fought a lot
it isn’t your father’s drinking that makes any difference   
but only that everybody is together and you
and your sister have happy birthdays and very good   
Christmases
and I really hope no white person ever has cause   
to write about me
because they never understand
Black love is Black wealth and they’ll
probably talk about my hard childhood
and never understand that
all the while I was quite happy

Nikki Giovanni, “Nikki-Rosa” from Black Feeling, Black Talk, Black Judgment. Copyright © 1968, 1970 by Nikki Giovanni. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni (2003)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Nikki Giovanni b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Living, Coming of Age, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity, Youth

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Nikki  Giovanni

Biography

Nikki Giovanni is one of the best-known African-American poets who reached prominence during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her unique and insightful poetry testifies to her own evolving awareness and experiences: from child to young woman, from naive college freshman to seasoned civil rights activist, from daughter to mother. Frequently anthologized, Giovanni’s poetry expresses strong racial pride and respect for family. Her . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity, Youth

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.