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Bicycles: Love Poems Paperback – February 2, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

For four decades, poet, activist, and teacher Giovanni has been a polestar. Playful and profound, cutting-edge yet always looking back to the wisdom of those who walked before us, Giovanni, recipient of the first Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award, defines life’s demands and rewards for seekers of all ages. Hers was the clarion, healing voice that rose from the horrors of the Virginia Tech shootings in 2006, and her Hip Hop Speaks to Children (2008) became that rare phenomenon, a best-selling poetry book. Now Giovanni graces readers with a new collection of love poems, titled, with her usual élan and wit, Bicycles “because love requires trust and balance.” Disarming, sly, sensual, and knowing, Giovanni’s poems scan like the teasing and wise songs favored by Dinah Washington and Etta James. Homey and worldly, funny and jazzy, these nimble love lyrics move from the routine—cooking, housework, football, a howling heart, bodily woes—to the miraculous (bliss) because Giovanni is a trickster and a sage who folds a lifetime of feelings and discoveries into each poised, swinging, and heartfelt line. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Easily one of [Giovanni’s] most powerful offerings to date.” (Essence)

“Bicycles is powered as much by Giovanni’s warmth and authenticity as by her words.” (Christian Science Monitor)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 Reprint edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061726494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061726491
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #588,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Pretty Brown Girl VINE VOICE on January 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nikki Giovanni celebrates her 65 years with 65 poems following in the tradition of her well-received earlier release, Love Poems, and expands on the nuances, notions, and manifestations of love. She taps into the senses: the instant physiological reactions of seeing a lover or loved one regardless of whether they are a revered figure (in an ode to "Free Huey") or familial as reflected in "Christmas Laughter." Tastes are echoed in the references of food seasoned just right and prepared with the right dose of tender loving care. Hearing and touching are featured in several pieces devoted to jazz and the influence music has in the art of love and loving. "Love Luther" is dedicated to the love that Luther Vandross inspired with his melodic voice and songs that begat a generation. She does not let us forget the power of memories elicited from the whiff of a lover's cologne, smell of "him" on his shirt, or revisiting his essence on the sweat-soaked sheets the morning after. Filled with metaphors Miss Nikki reminds us that love can be experienced everywhere at all times from many sources even our ancestors, our families, our friends, ourselves. We must be patient and mindful of it for it is a loving balm that can strengthen and renew us when we need it most.

Opening and closing with reflections on the Virginia Tech massacre, she shares her observations and lessons learned that love can lift anyone from the depth of tragedy. There are other works in the collection that mention the peace and protection love can bring, the sacrifices loved ones make, and the joy it offers. There is something for everyone in this compact offering because she covers the concept in many settings and from many angles. Bicycles is a short, sweet, enjoyable collection that is easily absorbed into the soul.

Reviewed by Phyllis
January 19, 2009
APOOO BookClub
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By RBSProds TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Five POETIC Stars. Experiences, Dreams, and Love: the stuff of great poetry.
NIkki Giovanni is a poet, writer, educator, commentator, and activist who has been showered with awards throughout her storied career which has used books, the stage, Grammy-nominated recordings, the classroom, and visual media as delivery means. She can be dazzling, while convincing the audience that she sees the world in a way through her poems and written commentary that demands attention and commands our considerations. She sometimes uses a simple poetic delivery technique of short powerful, emotional, incisive phrases that reveal the subject matter in a way that is uniquely her own and almost instantly recognizable.

A Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech University at Blacksburg, Virginia, Ms Giovanni starts off with a long-form, gut-wrenching, pull-no-punches poem, "BLACKSBURG UNDER SIEGE", from both viewpoints about the terrible day at Virginia Tech which saw the worst mass shooting in US history; the book ends with the stirring poem "WE ARE VIRGINIA TECH", which she delivered at the memorial after the massacre that drew an extended ovation from the crowd and President & Mrs Bush (with the added "Iraqi teenager" comment). In between there are general, memorable views of our world. There are three in a row which are especially notable: "I AM GLASS" runs ordinary glass through its gamut of uses and vulnerabilities; "ALCHEMICAL" gives us a new way of seeing the world, leaving the rest to us.; "NO HEAVEN" justifies its very existence by looking at the wonders of this world. And there is so much more, like the beautiful animal "MIGRATIONS". I haven't finished the book, choosing to read and consider a few poems at a time over a long period of time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Lee on May 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Nikki Giovanni's collection of poetry "Bicycles" is a compilation of love poems that are incredibly relatable for anyone who has been in love, lost a love, or had a broken heart. When reading the poems, it was easy to feel what she felt and makes you realize that you have probably had the same feelings too but used a different outlet to put those feelings out there or just kept them in.
Some of the poems grabbed me more intensely than others. For example, "If Only" talked about the possible romance you could have had with someone if you would have only told that person how you truly felt. It talks about all of the different scenarios if you could have been together and how wondering about a specific romance could always be on your mind. "Good Night" describes two people who may want to be with each other but are not quite sure so they take a little extra time when they are together and do not rush home.
When reading the poems, they flow in a way that tells a story and is like reading a romance novel. You just want the person you are reading about to have that happy ending and find their true love that they are hopelessly yearning for. Each poem is a tease and they keep you wanting more.
There was one poem that showed the side of love that may not be right but sometimes happens. "I Would Not Be Different" was brutally honest about falling for the wrong person. Many people find themselves wondering about someone that they should not wonder about. For example, someone who is married or in a serious relationship, but even though they may not act on their feelings, their minds might wander to that place. Most people do not verbalize those desires but Nikki Giovanni did just that. She talked about how wonderful it could be to be in that forbidden person's arms.
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