Full Circle Ramblings – Nikki Giovanni, Baba Asa, and A Different World

April is National Poetry Month. I realized I was a poet in elementary school when I wrote a brief poem with a basic rhyme scheme. I’ve written sporadically since that time; performed at a few spoken word sets; but I’m still trying to perfect my craft.

One of my favorite poets is the incredible Nikki Giovanni. I fell in love with her when I was a student in high school. I watched the “Mammy Dearest” episode of A Different World and had to know about the poems recited in the closing scene. I found out that the two poems that moved me so intensely during that episode were Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Masks” and Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Trippin (there may be a reason why)”. Those two poems quickly became two of my favorites and I committed them to memory (and also forced some of my middle school students to do the same).

I had the opportunity to meet Giovanni at an event in Atlanta shortly after I moved in 2003. I literally was speechless. She signed my poetry book and posed for a picture. Elated does not begin to describe it. The clip below is from her recent visit to a highschool in Portland, Oregon.

Seeing Portland immediately reminded me of Dr. Asa Hilliard’s Baseline Essays. Full Circle.

My Favorite Sitcom: A Different World features Giovanni’s poem in 1991.

My Favorite Baba: Asa Grant Hilliard, III and the Baseline Essays for the Portland Public Schools in 1982. I met Baba Asa in 2003.

My Favorite Poet: Nikki Giovanni speaks to students in Portland, Oregon in 2014.

See, the Universe comes full circle with guidance…right when I need it. 🙂



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