Cover image for Blues : for all the changes : new poems
Blues : for all the changes : new poems
Giovanni, Nikki.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 100 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3557.I55 B68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3557.I55 B68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3557.I55 B68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS3557.I55 B68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
PS3557.I55 B68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Intimate, edgy, and unapologetic, Blues: For All the Changes bears the mark of Nikki Giovanni's unmistakable voice.In a career that has spanned three decades, Giovanni has created an indispensable body of work and earned a place amoung the nation's most celebrated and controversial poets; Gloria Naylor calls her "one of our national treasures." Now, in these fifty-two new poems, Giovanni brings the passion, fearless wit, and intensely personal self that have defined her life's work to a new front.

Invoking the fates and exalting the rhythm of the everyday, Giovanni writes with might and majesty. From the environment to our reliance on manners, from sex and politics to love among Black folk, Blues is a masterwork with poems for every soul and every mood: The poignant "Stealing Home" pays tribute to Jackie Robinson, while "Road Rage Blues" jams on time and space; Giovanni celebrates love's absolut power in "Train Rides" and laments life's trasience in "Me and Mrs. Robin." With the tenderness that has made her on of our most accessible and beloved poets, Giovanni evokes a world that is not only just but also happy. Her powerful stand engages the world with a truth telling that is as eloquent as it is elegant.

Intimate, edgy, and unapologetic, Blues For All the Changes bears the mark of Nikki Giovanni's unmistakable voice. At once political and intensely personal, this long-awaited volume embodies the fearless passion and wit that have made Nikki Giovanni one of our most accessible poets; her audience defies all boundaries of race, class, age, and style.

From the poignant "Stealing Home," Ms. Giovanni's tribute to Jackie Robinson, to the defiant "Road Rage Blues," a jam on time and space, these fifty-one poems challenge the fates and invoke the precarious state of our environment, Giovanni's battle with illness, manners, and other topics seminal to one of our most compassionate, outspoken observers.

With a reverence for the power of language, Blues For All the Changes will once again enchant Nikki Giovanni's extensive following and inspire those who are newly discovering her work.

Author Notes

Nikki Giovanni is one of the most prominent black poets of her generation. Born on June 7, 1943, in Knoxville, Tenn., she graduated from Fisk University and later studied at Columbia University. Giovanni creates strongly written poems to convey messages of love, frustration, alienation, and the black experience. She gained national fame with the publication of Black Feeling, Black Talk, Black Judgement in 1970. Full of the spirit of the black community during this era, her works captured the anger and frustration of many of its members.

Giovanni has been the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ford Foundation. She has taught English at Rutgers University, Ohio State University, and Queens College and has given frequent poetry readings. She is also known for several sound recordings of her poetry, including Truth Is On Its Way. She has also been a Professor of English at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Giovanni is as socially conscious, outspoken, and roguishly funny as ever in her new poems. Matching her powerful voice to the supple cadence of the blues, a perfect vehicle for irony, she hammers away at the racism that continues to warp and strangle American life, but she writes of pleasure, too, of good food and good friends, lovers and family. Agile and spirited, Giovanni relishes sports metaphors and tough language. She sings out in praise of the civil rights movement and its innovative and gutsy poets and presents tributes to black soldiers, Jackie Robinson, and Betty Shabazz. Many of her poems take the form of monologues that make the leap from the merely annoying to the unjust, the ordinary to the cosmic as Giovanni muses over what it really means to be heroic, how science misses the point, and how age slyly puts all your mind-and soul-learning to the test. She also addresses the scandals of the times by placing "Starrism" right next to "McCarthyism," proving that it takes a poet to get it just right. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)0688156983Donna Seaman

Library Journal Review

Social and/or political poetry often fails because it loses touch with humanity; it gets distracted by issues and forgets about the impact of things on people. Giovanni never loses sight of the people in her work. In poems built with broken lines and paragraphs of prose, she spars with the ills that confront us, but every struggle has a human face. Ask Roger Woody, of the Woody Pipe and Excavating Company, who is destroying the wonderful woodland adjacent to Giovanni's home and readying it for a new housing development. When a young basketball star is harassed for his youth and style ("Iverson"), she assumes the role of compassionate but stern sister. She is no less forthcoming with her opinions of the President and his woes. At times you wonder what makes these soapbox oratories poems. You will not find many familiar rhetorical devices here, but you will want to dance to the music, the rhythms and language, the sound and exacting energy of these poemsÄwhich is more than enough.ÄLouis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Blues: For All the Changes New Poems The Wrong Ktchen Grandmother would sit me between her legs to scratch my dandruff and unravel my plaits We didn't know then dandruff was a sign of nervousness hives tough emotional decisions things seen that were better unseen We thought love could cure anything a doll here a favorite caramel cake there The arguments the slaps the chairs banging against the wall the pleas to please stop would disappear under quilts aired in fresh air would be forgotten after Sunday School teas and presentations for the Book Club We didn't know then why I played my radio all night and why I kept a light burning We thought back then it was my hair that was nappy So we--trying to make it all right-- straightened the wrong kitchen Blues: For All the Changes New Poems . Copyright © by Nikki Giovanni. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Blues: For All the Changes: New Poems by Nikki Giovanni All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Flatted thirds and seventhsp. 1
The Wrong Kitchenp. 3
Sound in Spacep. 5
Nothing Is Justp. 8
A Real Pisserp. 9
A Rap for Lorrainep. 11
The Faith of a Mustard Seedp. 12
Visible Inkp. 15
And How Could I Live Onp. 17
This Poem Hatesp. 19
Not Just Truman's Babyp. 22
One More Boxcarp. 24
Nobody Trusts Silencep. 25
The President's Penisp. 27
The Inaugural poemp. 28
Just Jazzp. 31
Stealing Homep. 32
Opening Day or Hey! Start a Contestp. 34
A Counting Gamep. 37
2 Word Poemp. 38
Mondayp. 41
Road Ragep. 44
Reading Lessonp. 49
Truthtellingp. 50
Be My Babyp. 52
Somewhere Sometimesp. 53
I Can Singp. 55
A Civil Rights Journeyp. 56
Train Ridesp. 59
The Poem for Frances Brownp. 64
Yvonne and Davidp. 65
For Just One Momentp. 67
This Poemp. 68
Fuguep. 71
Me and Mrs. Robinp. 73
Progressp. 77
In Which Casep. 78
Writing Lessonsp. 80
Iverson's Possep. 82
Mrs. Batp. 85
Cloudsp. 86
Seedsp. 87
Sundayp. 88
The Things We Love About Winterp. 89
On My Journey Nowp. 90
A Blackbird on My Kneep. 91
The Little Choo Choo Trainp. 92
Convenient Haystacksp. 93
Lasso the Sunp. 94
Kiss a Frogp. 95
The Rainp. 96
One Stops on My Windowpanep. 97
Brought 2 U by...p. 98
The Last Poemp. 99