“Jobs are good, but dreams are more important.”
The epic words of wisdom echoed throughout Cahn auditorium to the audience of almost 200 on Thursday night (October 17), as legendary poet and author, Nikki Giovanni, effortlessly offered tips on how to be great.
She touched on topics ranging from love and pop culture (addressing “Scandal” and “The Butler”) to traveling the world and hanging out with her equally celebrated group of friends (Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Angela Davis just to name a few).
The Virginia Tech professor of English, often noted for her revolutionary poems most prominent in the 70s, reminded onlookers at the For Member’s Only sponsored event that she’s still unafraid to stray from the unabashed truth. At 70-years-old, she continually referenced her need to be utterly Nikki “just a poet ,” while urging Northwestern’s minority population to also remain true to self.
When it came to issues like the government shutdown and the portrayal of blacks in film, Giovanni painted an all-too-real picture of the state of America today and it’s need for change.
“We need something in America right now. I’m unhappy,” she said. “The United States has defaulted on the debt it owes black people. We have been here. Nobody’s concerned still.”
As she transitioned from topic to topic, a strand of authenticity seemed to connect the dots and she offered words of advice for her younger audience.
“The thing you have to do, you have to go around the world,” the author emphasized. “There’s a world out there some place and it’s exciting. Get your passports, find someone to love and find some good wine.”
As for addressing the State of the Black Union, Giovanni simply said that the community “has to be ready when the call comes. We need movement out of you youngsters,” she said. “You have to do something. This is what your birthright is. You are college graduates, so we look for you to lead. We look for you to think of where we’re going in the future.”
The crowd was entranced as the beloved figure proved furthermore why she’s a best-selling poet. She closed by reciting works from her latest collection, “Chasing Utopia,” titled in reference to her quest for a high-end brew, Utopia, which she wanted to find and drink in celebration of her late beer-loving “mommy.”
While she did eventually find the beer, she also seemed to have found something much deeper—the true meaning of utopia and happiness within herself. “You know that it will stop, this life,” she said. “So what you have to do is live it. And that’s what I’ve done. I’m happy.”