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Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems Hardcover – November 5, 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Particularly in light of the recent deaths of June Jordan and Gwendolyn Brooks, readers might well look to Giovanni as spokeswoman for the black experience. And, at times, she captures it, effectively representing "all the women who said Baby, Baby, Baby I know you didn't mean to lose your job...I know you didn't mean to gamble the rentmoney I know you didn't mean to hit me." A recent poem, "Have Dinner with Me," written after the World Trade Center collapsed, is a modern masterpiece. Unfortunately, too many of these poems, though themselves strong, seem intent on rehashing the 1950s political climate. And the "Not Quite Poems" predominate. These proselike pieces include childhood memoirs that draw the reader clearly into her experiences, and there is a delightful spoof on what the movie of Harry Potter should have been, but elegiac tributes and political diatribes fare less well. "I keep trying to learn something new so I can share what I am learning," she writes in a letter-poem to a convict on death row. While the effort is to be praised, she too often comes up with insights readers have absorbed a long time ago. For larger collections.
Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

For 30 years Giovanni has channeled her experiences and responses to American life into bluesy poetry that entwines the political and the personal and celebrates womanhood and black society and culture. Hers is an embracing, uplifting, and sustaining voice, one given to both anger and humor. In her latest collection of 50 new poems and "not quite poems," Giovanni pays sweet tribute to her grandmother and remembers Gwendolyn Brooks: "Not only one of the premier poets of America but a woman for all seasons." She also shares family stories, ponders a scary bout with cancer, offers an unusual view of Harry Potter, and scathingly castigates Bush and Gore. In the title poem, she's at her swinging best, funny and wise as she riffs on the line "we're going to Mars," writing in one striking stanza, "because whatever is wrong with us will not / get right with us so we journey forth / carrying the same baggage," and yet, Giovanni hopes, we may be lightening that burden bit by bit. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 110 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (November 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060099526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060099527
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,378,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Quilting The Black Eyed Pea by Nikki Giovanni is a gut wrenching and emotion jerking book of oh so fabulous poetry based on events from her heart and corresponding to major events that shook the lives of the nation called America.

Beginning with the Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea (We're Going To Mars), this poem is indeed one as I have never read in my life of literature. Nikki poetically finds similarities between the trip to Mars (that we yearn for) and the Middle Passage in the slave ship on it's way to a desitation unheard.
This poem reasons out the trip to Mars to be very important to us because of self denial, waiting for all our bad attributes to become lost somewhere else, so we journey off to leave our old selves back to try and find a new self.
Then all at once, we get to Mars and begin to kill the "Martians and the Martian Sympathizers". . ."As if the Fugitive Slave Law wasn't bad enough then". Sound familiar?
All of a sudden, the way that we are packed in the space ship is the same way the enslaved were whipped and chained in the slave ship. They survived though their survival own skills.

Thus, Nikki concludes with a smiling martian community watching us land on their terf while they simply continue to quilt a black-eyed pea.
This is remarkable. Focusing on Emmett Till, Susan Smith, Rosa Parks, and even President Bush and his response to the terrorists attacks and how it should have been! I must say. . . she makes much sense in her poetic vibe.

Her magnificent poems circle around love for animals and nature and any forms of life. . .especially human. Not to be self centered and consumed with everything that we forget everything. Learn to care and be compassionate.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book of poems and not quite poems. I have so many favorites but the one I liked most was "Twenty Reasons to Love Richard Williams". When I read the title I was thinking who is Richard Williams...maybe some one she once dated. As I started reading it I realized who she was talking about. This poem is so funny yet so VERY true. I actually read it twice. There were several others that I enjoyed like "Aunt Daughter and that Glorious Song" and "Bring On The Bombs: A Historical Interview". As I read these I was sort of lost at first and then I realized that they were about James Weldon Johnson and Daisy Bates, I love the way that she tells the stories of those two events in history. I do wonder if "Aunt Daughter and That Glorious Song" is a true story. I also enjoyed "What We Miss", which was some what therapeutic for me becuase I lost my mother last year and many of the things that I miss about my mother were written in this poem. And "He Blew It" just speaks for itself.
I love Ms. Giovanni's writing and this book is one of my favorites. She is so truthful about everything that she has written here. It is like she put on paper what everyone has been thinking.
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Format: Hardcover
Holding a book of poetry or essays by Nikki Giovanni is like holding a gift of joy in one's hand. In this slim volume called Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, we get both genres. Some pieces have both; they start off as a poem and meander into essay form as in the self-titled offering, "Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea". What does H. Rap Brown have to do with NASA and Martians? Well, in this poem/essay, she ties it all together and somehow it all makes sense.
In "Twenty Reasons to Love Richards Williams, Giovanni pays tribute to Venus and Serena Williams' father; "He makes white folks crazy (PS and the black bourgeoisie, too)". "Don't Think" is but six powerful lines and "Blackberry Cobbler", now one of my favorite poems, is reminiscent of childhood and grandmothers. Tributes are paid to James Baldwin, Rosa Parks, and there is another Aretha poem. In these tributes, a ground work of black history is laid before she bestows the honoree with ultimate adulation.
As in Love Poems, her previous collection, Giovanni gives you words of wisdom, love, and conscientious discourse. This is a book that you will find yourself picking up again and again and wanting to share with others. This is poetry- Nikki style.
Dera Williams
APOOO BookClub
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Format: Hardcover
"Quilting is a metaphor for space travel and the Black folk
that I imagine await on us on Mars, sitting around quilting
the black - eyed pea." -- Nikki Giovanni
In light of the quote above, I begin the arduous task of
reviewing the works of a cultural icon who has remained
unwaverved in her political beliefs and true to living
life her way. She has mastered the art of blending grief,
sarcasm and sometimes outrage with the right touch of
Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, is a collection of 50 poems,
sketches and meditations that touches on a gamut of events
as Ms. Giovanni in her narrative voice gives the world a
historical overview and also focuses on the future. This
collection which cuts to the core and seems unapologetic
is very intimate. Each piece in the collection has the
ability to pull the reader into a vortex of introspection.
I urge everyone to read them slowly and absorb the author's
In 'We're Going to Mars' and 'Symphony of the Sphinx', she
exposes sketches of Black history and the intense struggle
people of color have endured just to live the American dream.
In 'Here's to Gwen', Ms. Giovanni depicts women as forces
to be reckoned with in literary history with her special
dedication to the premier poet, Gwendolyn Brooks. In 'Twenty
Reasons to Love Richard Williams', she pays homage to a
tennis father who had the stick-to-itiveness to propel his
daughters to tennis stardom, and who made the world see
through his eyes how beautiful Black is. There is nothing
quite like her terse, biting '9-11-01'('He blew it'), as
Ms. Giovanni shares her views on the politics of the country,
and on the office of the Commander and Chief.
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