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Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid Hardcover – October 29, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

With nearly 30 books for children and adults to her credit as author, and another half-dozen or so as editor, along with a stately list of major awards and honorary degrees, Giovanni has long been a force for literary exuberance and social responsibility. In her latest accessible, teasing, and poignant collection, she offers straightforward, plain-speaking, sneakily resonant poems, many in prose form. Giovanni remembers her grandparents and the joys of simple pleasures: food, Sunday mornings, driving cross-country. She looks back to her childhood and first literary stirrings, and to her return, as a published poet and mother, to take care of her parents after her father’s stroke. When she describes the labor involved in scraping off layers of old floor wax, she cues us to reflect on how the past shapes and nurtures us even as we must free ourselves from its smothering accretions. Giovanni also reminds us that “Love is a skill;” then, in “When the Girl Becomes a Poet,” she celebrates the opportunity to “be a truth giver / contribute / something beautiful and useful to the world.” --Donna Seaman

Review

“Giovanni has long been a force for literary exuberance and social responsibility. In her latest accessible, teasing, and poignant collection, she offers straightforward, plain-speaking, sneakily resonant poems . . . she celebrates the opportunity to ‘be a truth giver / contribute / something beautiful and useful to the world.’” (Booklist)

“This slim volume delights on every page. There are stories, imaginings, whimsy, and startling images which prove the poet’s power and her command of language . . . Anyone with a love of language will be delighted with this book and the continuing publication of America’s treasured poet.” (San Francisco Book Review)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688156975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688156978
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
You know, I had initially rated this book four stars, but then I had to go back and give it five stars. This book of poetry (and essays) is just... it is simply amazing. Giovanni writes beautifully; her pen aims straight for the heart. Her poems, seemingly about everyday things and occurrences, say so much more than what is actually on the page. These poems celebrate the simplicity of every day living and the complexity of life all at once.

The essays are great, too, but my real love affair is with the poems. This book contains poems such as "These Women," "I Wish I Could Live (in a Book)," "I Wish I Could Live (in Music)," and "Spider Waltz." These poems celebrate womanhood and love and heartbreak and family, most of all, family.

I recommend this book to everyone -- EVERYONE. I believe that even people who don't enjoy poetry could enjoy this poetry.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I ordered the sample for my Kindle app on my iPad and it wasn't enough. I had to keep reading so I immediately purchased and downloaded the whole book. And then I kept reading. I just couldn't stop. Luckily it was a cold rainy Saturday :-)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have all of Nikki's books. I love her messages. I met her years ago in Detroit & I was impressed by her style & the way she spoke
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Format: Hardcover
I hadn't plan on checking this book out when I arrived at the library. But I don't regret it at all. I read it in two days and would love to read more. Giovanni's nostalgic moments through poetry and essays are witty, warm-hearted and adventurous - I mean how many people can say that they invited Nina Simone to hang out with them, and she showed up! Not to mention the bond shared with Toni Morrison. The homage paid to predecessors/current heroes, recollections of familial moments/recipes adds an even more personal touch. The message of history, love and especially family resonates ever so loudly. I will most definitely be adding this book to my collection!
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Format: Hardcover
My favorite parts of the book were the times she mentioned meeting Toni Morrison and Nina Simone, individually, for the first time. I would have felt the same way. And indeed, that's how I feel about Giovanni, the time(s) I have shaken her hand.

She has a homage poem entitled "For Sonia Sanchez", and while many of the writers mentioned in the poem have past, I love that Sonia Sanchez is still alive. I definitely believe in giving people their flowers while they are here. I'm glad that she did not wait for another funeral before publishing this piece.

When I read poetry books, one thing that I find interest is poetry placement. I love the way in which poems are ordered.

My favorite placement in this book is the fact that "Robert Champion" is followed by "Allowables". The scene described in the Champion poem laid the foundation for understanding the end of "Allowables": "I don't think/ I'm allowed// To kill something/ Because I am/ Frightened"

And that poem could be the slogan of now. Those last 5 lines, those last four stanzas made me think about all of these Black men killed by police officers... and the officers say they were so scared of these unarmed Black men! Whew! I can't handle it; I'll move on.

There are many things that I love about poetry: I love rhythms, line breaks, one lined stanzas. I love a well placed comma, appositives, a fitting title.

But with Giovanni, again and again, I love her endings. I loved the endings of "If a Lemon", "I am at that Point", "I Hate Mondays", "Fear: Eat In or Take Out", "Biscuits", "Poets" and many others.

I can't wait to read this book "Chasing Utopia" all over again.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nikki embraces the meaning of life in her eloquent and descriptive words of food, drinks, and flowers. She makes it easy for the reader to cherish every moment on earth by celebrating the senses with flavors and aromas that involves family. This zest for life continues and includes the appeal of familiar places and tastes. Furthermore, Nikki makes you proud to be an Artist, Writer, and Poet. Also, Nikki pays homage to the people’s and her own favorite Artists and Authors such as Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and Langston Hughes. Basically, it is a good idea to own this book, so you can have a constant reminder of what is really important in this life. More importantly, it is a great way to incorporate reading for the food enthusiasts. Now, just thinking about it, I am so hungry for more.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nikki Giovanni brings a myriad of prose and poetry to shared memories of family and friends past and present. The reader need not ponder and uncover symbolism. Ms. Giovanni's emotional translations rise to the literal surface so everyone can relate. (You will want to try her recipes!) Will warm your heart!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Nikki Giovanni. Point blank, period. She's the queen of poetry. I'd recommend this book of poems for anyone who's already familiar with her and loves her work.
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