Nikki Giovanni to Launch National Book Tour from Knoxville on March 27

The world-renowned poet will be joined on stage by UT’s Love United Gospel Choir

University of Tennessee’s Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature is very pleased to host Nikki Giovanni for a special appearance at the Tennessee Theatre at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27. The renowned writer/poet will be joined on stage by UT’s Love United Gospel Choir. The event is free and open to the public. Carpe Librum Booksellers will provide books for signing.

Giovanni and her publisher, Candlewick Press, chose Knoxville for the launch of her new book, On My Journey Now – Looking at African American History Through the Spirituals. Giovanni’s personal journey began in Knoxville where she was born in 1943 and where she and her sister spent subsequent summers with their grandparents after her family moved to Cincinnati, OH.

In her famous children’s poem, “Knoxville, TN,” Giovanni returns to her nostalgic roots with warm memories of summer in the mountains. There, she celebrates going to a church picnic where she listens to gospel music outside.

As a little girl, Giovanni was deeply inspired by the early gospel lyrics and beats of her ancestors. In On My Journey Now, she weaves the words of those spirituals with the inspiring story of Africans in America. As she paints compelling portraits of the lives of her ancestors through familiar songs such as “Go Down, Moses” and personal favorites such as “Ain’t Got Time to Die,” she celebrates people who overcame enslavement and found a way to survive, worship and build.

Giovanni is the author of the best-selling Rosa, a biography of Rosa Parks illustrated by Bryan Collier; The Sun Is So Quiet, illustrated by Ashley Bryan; and Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Like My Sister Kate. Three of her poetry collections for adults have received NAACP Image Awards. She serves as University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg where she now lives.

“We are honored that Candlewick and Giovanni have chosen our event as the launch of this important book,” says Ken Wise, co-founder of the Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. “Her devotion to this area is a testament to the rich literary tradition in our own back yard. She will continue to inspire young people for generations.”

The Love United Gospel Choir, which is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, is a student organization at the University of Tennessee with 100 students who come together to serve the campus and local community through service and song. Jocelyn Milton is the faculty advisor for the choir. Gospel music is an integral part of the African American culture and represents the theme of Giovanni’s latest book.

ABOUT THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE

UT’s Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature works to promote the use of literature in the education and lives of children and young adults by providing workshops for teachers and librarians, and sponsoring talks by authors and illustrators which are open to the public. Publishers of children’s and young adult books provide review copies of their most
recently published books for study and examination within the center by librarians, students, teachers and the public.

The center is a partnership between the University of Tennessee Libraries, the School of Information Sciences, and the College of Education, Health and Human Services with participation from Knox County Public Library, Knox County Schools, Maryville City Schools, Oak Ridge City Schools, the Children’s Defense Fund, and the Webb School of Knoxville.

For more information about this event or UT’s Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, please contact Ken Wise at (865) 974-2359.

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