When encountering an artist’s work for the first time, especially one who’s lauded doubly for her writing ability and Civil Rights activism (and the coupling of both), it’s dismaying when the work is underwhelming.
With Sacred Cows…And Other Edibles, that surely is not the case. In fact, i don’t believe the work of Nikki Giovanni, or at least this collection of poetic and autobiographical prose, is given its deserved attention today.
Even in an age where privacy is becoming a rarity, replaced by involuntary openness, Giovanni’s candor is refreshing; she was frank and self-echoing decades before it was fashionable.
I want to commend and bring attention to her transparency. Being forthright and open to an audience, whether in business, government or personal relationships, is an appealing combination these days. It seems everyone desires candor, and that want serves as the perfect proverbial carrot.
Giovanni’s openness, however, exists not as motivation, but as sustenance and sweetness unknown. Once experienced, the reader will want to indulge, to continue as witness to unbridled truth of self—a rare innocence that exists not with malice, but with intentions of purity.
There is an ease in the way she illustrates life’s experiences: from the tiresome rearing of a teenager to the concession of battling a cancerous cigarette habit, her writing is direct yet eloquent. Switching styles from poetic historical and political polemic and didactic to fractional introspective prose, the transparency and eloquence of self-worth is tangible throughout each. The gamut is run; the gauntlet thrown down. Readers and writers alike will find something that speaks to them.
I encourage women and men, Blacks, Whites and all assorted ethnicities and (non-) religious folks to read Giovanni. There’s a collective human history spoken of and reviewed by a Black women’s mind and voice; one from which all can (and I believe, will) benefit.
(This post is also on my Lunch.com profile.)