Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bad Poetry

Saint Kansas has called the following poem by Nikki Giovanni, Virginia Tech "University Distinguished Professor" (despite only having a B.A.), as having great potential "in case any of you have ingested something poisonous and need to induce vomiting." What an apt description, especially when she bizarrely starts comparing Virginia Tech student and faculty members' lives lost to those affected by the crimes of Western Civilization, including a baby elephant:

(my analysis of the "poem" in brackets)

We are Virginia Tech

We are sad today
We will be sad for quite a while
We are not moving on
We are embracing our mourning

We are Virginia Tech
[count the number of narcissistic "we's"]

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly [how is that strong?]
We are brave enough to bend to cry [how is that brave?]
And we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again [what?]

We are Virginia Tech

We do not understand this tragedy
[a massacre, not a tragedy]
We know we did nothing to deserve it

But neither does a child in Africa
Dying of AIDS
[what does this and the rest of this "poem" have to do with the massacre?]

Neither do the Invisible Children [why is Invisible Children capitalized? Where do these Invisible Children live?]
Walking the night away to avoid being captured by a rogue army [where, other than in Giovanni's imagination, is a rogue army capturing Invisible Children?]

Neither does the baby elephant watching his community
Be devastated for ivory [with this weird analogy, Giovanni has announced she believes baby elephants, like man, are capable of reason and logic.]
Neither does the Mexican child looking
[Why break the line here?]
For fresh water [Okay. "For fresh water" is Profound and needs its own line]

Neither does the Iraqi teenager dodging bombs [tell that to Muslims and Al Qaeda]

Neither does the Appalachian infant killed
By a boulder
[When has this ever occurred?]
Dislodged [She appears to give Dislodged its own line because it is Profound]
Because the land was destabilized [With all the national forests in the Appalachians, how can man "destabilize an entire mountain causing a boulder to strike an infant?].

No one deserves a tragedy [Yes, a boulder careening down a mountain aiming for a poor Appalachian child is a tragedy; a student gunning down 32 others is a massacre. Liberals don't understand the difference.]

We are Virginia Tech
The Hokie Nation embraces
Our own
And reaches out
With open heart and mind
[as opposed to closed heart and mind?]
To those who offer their hearts and hands

We are strong
And brave
And innocent
[what she is really saying here: As opposed to evil George Bush, considering the litany of abuses above he has committed such as allowing a boulder to kill an infant and making Invisible Children dodge bombs]
And unafraid

We are better than we think [narcissism alert]
And not yet quite what we want to be
We are alive to imagination

And open to possibility [as opposed to closed to possibility?]
We will continue
To invent the future
[more narcissism. We have 32 dead victims and it is all about us]

Through our blood and tears [the victims' blood or our blood?]
Through all this sadness
We are the Hokies

We will prevail
We will prevail
We will prevail
[Is this a Black Power convention of the 1970s?]

We are
Virginia Tech

Nikki Giovanni, delivered at the Convocation, April 17, 2007

Beside the self-centered number of "we's" that are immediately apparent reminding one of Father Paul Scalia's (son of Antonin Scalia) article about narcissism among liberal Catholics, the prose/poem demonstrates the way liberals deal with tragedy. They do not look outward at Truth, God, tradition, or absolute values to answer the question about why such a heinous act could occur; they narcissistically turn to themselves and immediately condemn Western Civilization.

Nikki, how do you think the parents of the victims feel about you comparing the deaths of their sons and daughters and the proportion of the atrocity to a "baby elephant watching his community be devastated for ivory?"

This poem is so awful in terms of structure (there is no logic to how she forms lines or stanzas except for the Spirit moving her), description, and meaning, it is difficult to judge where to start. First off, this act was an atrocity; it was not a "tragedy" as Giovanni asserts. Second, it is not "brave" to "bend to cry." It is a typical liberal narcissistic statement; true bravery and heroism is how Liviu Lebrescu acted: sacrificing his life for his students. Our "crying" is not brave.

I graduated from the Virginia Tech English department, and I do know that Nikki Giovanni is an open lesbian, whose lover Virginia Fowler (who does have a PhD.) wrote many flattering papers about Nikki Giovanni. She pushed Tech to hire Giovanni, which they did, despite Giovanni only having a B.A. Giovanni is paid several times more than the average PhD. She is considered the superstar of the campus. One of her first acts at Virginia Tech was to immediately diss the PhD professors in the English Department.

I mention the above because Matt Sanchez, Columbia undergraduate and marine corporal in the Reserves, has discussed the narcissism that is immediately apparent in Giovanni's poem as being endemic to gays who flaunt their sexuality. In an interview with Randy Thomas of Exodus, he compares their narcissism to the traditional ideals of the Marines and Christian Western Civilization:

There are no "Latino Marines, or Black Marines or Chinese Marines, there are just Marines. In that way, they're not different from Christians who have a non-segregation "We are all God's children" approach to their fellow Christians.

Conservatives feel there are intrinsic values, universal truths and that
humans--who are inherently flawed--can move toward those values. There's a fundamental divide between the two. Conservatives believe the truths are external and we as humans, people, souls can move closer and farther to these truths and that proximity, if you will, is what defines us. The liberal/gay fundamentalist side says that the individual is "that truth" and that he/she needs to just accept who one is. In other words, they as individuals are the sum of all things. They are the society, nation and religion of one … that one being the individual. They are subordinate to no one.
The prose message by the English department is far more profound and less narcissistic than Nikki Giovanni's "poem":
In the English Department at Virginia Tech, we deeply mourn our students and colleagues who have lost their lives, and we grieve with the families and friends who have experienced such devastating loss. We extend our arms in love to these people and to our students who survive.


Anonymous said...

Just checked out your blog. Very funny - the analysis of the poem - I thought it was a student until I read more about 'Nikki'.

Anonymous said...

Though totally inappropriate and out of place in her speech at the convocation, the "Appalachian boulder" story is true - it happened a few years ago in my hometown:

August 21, 2004
Boulder plummets from surface mine, kills 3-year-old boy
Kingsport Times News Saturday
APPALACHIA, VA - A large boulder authorities believe was dislodged from a coal surface mining operation in Wise County early Friday toppled down a mountainside and killed a 3-year-old boy who was asleep in his bed...

Gabe said...

Anonymous 231-

I didn't know that it actually happened. It is sad, but I agree it is out of place. I don't understand Giovanni's reference to it and can't figure out how she feels it relates to a gunman killing 32 fellow students.

phbrown said...

Just as a note: the Invisible Children are probably the children of northern Uganda, trying to avoid being kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army. They really do "walk the night away" (or did, until quite recently; there was an agreement within the last few months between the Ugandan Government and the LRA, which may have stabilized the area some—I haven't kept abreast of that situation recently. If you want more details, Google "night commuters". That story, too, has “great potential ‘in case any of you have ingested something poisonous and need to induce vomiting.’”

Not that I claim any deep insight into the connection between the events in northern Uganda and those in Blacksburg (senseless violence, perhaps), but Giovanni is at any rate referring to a real situation, not something out of her own imagination.


Panda Rosa said...

Now to get the full impact--Imagine William Shatner reading this. There is no rhyme or reason tying all these tragedies together, sad though they all be. The Mexican child, the AIDS-infected child and the elephant don't really connect at all; while the description of the infant killed by a boulder just sounds wrong, true though it be, and the phrase "Invisible Children" threatens to turn this into bathos. This is one of those things that sounds Good, True, and Moving, until the HUNH? Factor kicks in, when you start to think about it.

Kasia said...

Peter is correct about the Invisible Children, and the reason it's capitalized is that it refers to a specific group. I had initially thought perhaps it was a reference to children of the Sudanese civil war. Both are horrible stories.

In any event, I think the "poem" is banal irrespective of the fact that the events to which Giovanni alludes are real.

Her point, I think, is that 'no one deserves to have bad things happen to them.' But she makes it very artlessly, and besides, bad things DO happen. The question is simply how you and I will respond to said bad things.

And what's with the "Hokie Nation" bit?! I don't think I care for that image...

Jay Anderson said...

This is the same woman who, in a very similar poem titled "I Am Cincinnati", last fall called then-Republican nominee for Ohio Governor, Ken Blackwell, a "son-of-a-bitch" and "political whore". She recited her poem at a non-political (and billed as "family friendly") statue dedication ceremony in downtown Cincinnati.

Anonymous said...

No need to tie this crap with homosexuality -- as a gay name, I can fully appreciate what shit this is.

Anonymous said...

Your buddy Matt Sanchez is a prostitute and a congential liar. Not that it matters to "conservatives" like you.

Anonymous said...

The prof is a radical liberal (I'm shocked!) and the plot thickens...

Virginia Tech's Professor of Hate
By Steve Sailer | April 26, 2007

Her speech was all the more inappropriate given her link to Cho and her knowledge of his mentality.

I'm a VT graduate, and along with my grief and devastation about the murders, I am extemely embarrassed about her.

Steve Onkey said...


ALI G -Booyakasha, chek i’ out. I is here wif my main man, Nikki G, my bro from Staines. How is you become poet?
NIKKI G- We’re communicators, it’s in our blood.
ALI G: Blood, West Side. Now sis, you, I mean, sorry you is my bro now, you is get some edumacation. You went to America, right?
NIKKI G: I went to Fisk.
ALI G: Tell me about how you is expelled for crack…
NIKKI G: It wasn’t for smoking crack. I started at Fisk in 1960, was soon expelled, and later returned and graduated in 1968. I did enroll and quickly drop out of two graduate schools after that but I did complete that one degree, my bachelor’s degree.
ALI G: Wha’eve. You is still my main man. Now you has Tupac Shukar tattoo, right? Can I see that?
NIKKI G: Yes, I have said I would rather be with the street thugs than with the ones who complain about them.
ALI G: Now is you believe Tupac’s criminal record make him a better rap artist?
NIKKI G: Well, I don’t know about that, but…
ALI G: I like that poem you wrote about nigger can you kill, can you stab a jew, and you draw blood, can you kill a honkie. Ain’t that a rap!
NIKKI G: You’re talking about my poem “The True Import Of Present Dialogue, Black vs. Negro.” I wrote that a long time ago.
ALI G: But can’t you make a rap out of that? You is get the whole crowd to stand up at Virginia Tech with that one.
NIKKI G: No, that was my new poem We Are Virginia Tech.
ALI G: Wha’eve. That was my one an’ only main man, Nikki G, my big bro and big time poet, big shout out for Nikki G from VT.

Anonymous said...

Nikki Giovanni is a horrible poet. In fact, it is unfair to poets to actually call her a poet, because what she does is simply take prose writing and break it up so that it looks like poetry. Her line divisions make no sense and have no effect and have no reason for being.

There are great black poets being overshadowed by flashy, pretentious "literary" hacks like Giovanni and Maya Angelou. Jay Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks and others are hardly read now because elementary education have focused directly on what they perceive to be the easily understood works of Angelou. This is a shame for the youth of America who are raised now to think that the garbage Giovanni writes has any aesthetic value.

I don't think there's anyone more narcissistic than Giovanni, who manages to make the Virginia Tech shootings about her.

Please, let's sign a petition to get her fired. She is an embarrassment.