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Ugh! A Collection of Trite Yuppiness from a Former Radical
on December 20, 2000
First off--I loved Nikki Giovanni. I say loved because the person she was--outspoken and radical--has dissipated into this soft pile of yuppie mush. She has chapters and poems dedicated to "Charging her love" (as in, through a MasterCard) and how good cashmere feels. This from a woman who used to speak about being gunned down by the CIA, about her fallen radical Black brothers, and about the price she paid to be armed and intelligent in a racist American. What a strange path she's taken to emerge as such a pandering cliche. No wonder the other reviewers treat this horrible collection as an accoutrement to a Nite of Luv (in case Victoria's Secret is closed that night). Her packaged, sing-song banalities deserve that type of treatment.
What's particularly painful is when one of her early poem is included, casting light on the difference between Nikki then and now. The lyrical beauty she possessed--showing that anger and love often spring from the same passion--only highlights the shallowness of her current verse. The ideas she expressed within this dualism were conflicted, and therefore refreshing and real. Her early work, like the poem "For Theresa", had a luminescence in it's sadness and a youthful righteousness not often seen in published poetry. (Please check out her early collection "Black Feeling, Black Talk, Black Judgement".) Like many of her generation, though, she must have decided that anger was not sustainable, and that luxury and platitudes were easy and more pleasing to the crowd. Based on the frothing customer comments about this collection, her bet was a good one. How sad for the rest of us, who believed what she said in those early works.