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Nikki Giovanni Quotes Celebrating Poetry and the Human Spirit

These Nikki Giovanni quotes will help remind you of the power you have to make a positive difference.

Nikki Giovanni is an American poet, activist and educator. One of America’s foremost poets, Giovanni is the author of numerous children books and poetry collections. Her work covers topics ranging from race and social issues to children’s literature.

Born on June 7, 1943, in Knoxville, Tennessee, Giovanni first caught the public’s attention as part of the Black Arts movement of the late 1960s. She published her first volume of poems, Black Feeling, Black Talk in 1968, and has gone on to publish other numerous collections of poetry over the course of a long career.

In recognition of her work, Giovanni has received numerous awards and accolades, including seven NAACP Image Awards, the Langston Hughes Medal, and over twenty honorary degrees. She has also been named as one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends”, and her poetry album, The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, led to a Grammy nomination.

Nikki Giovanni Quotes Celebrating Poetry and the Human Spirit

As one of the leading poetic voices, Giovanni is someone who has clearly managed to tap into her Everyday Power. In that respect, below is our collection of inspirational, wise, and thought-provoking Nikki Giovanni quotes.

Don’t forget to also read these quotes from Dorothy Parker to uncover life’s secrets.

Nikki Giovanni quotes celebrating poetry and the human spirit

1. “A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it” –  Nikki Giovanni

2. “Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts.” – Nikki Giovanni

3. “Now, everything I do, I do because I want to. And I believe the best is yet to come.” – Nikki Giovanni

4. “If everybody became a poet the world would be much better. We would all read to each other.” – Nikki Giovanni

5. “If you don’t understand yourself, you don’t understand anybody else.” – Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni quotes celebrating poetry and the human spirit

6. “Follow your image as far as you can no matter how useless you think it is. Push yourself.” – Nikki Giovanni

7. “There are things you stand up for because it’s right.” – Nikki Giovanni

8. “Deal with yourself as an individual worthy of respect and make everyone else deal with you the same way.” – Nikki Giovanni

9. “I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.” – Nikki Giovanni

10. ”If now isn’t a good time for the truth, I don’t see when we’ll get to it.” – Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni quotes to help you make a positive difference in your life and the lives of others

11. “I am totally fascinated by people and our history as I understand and continue to explore it. People have so much to give and so far to go and yet we have given and gone a great distance. It’s really just interesting to ask: why not? And see where that takes me.” – Nikki Giovanni

If you enjoyed this article, read our collection of Rumi quotes on life, love and strength that will inspire you.

12. “Poetry is like air. It’s one of the necessary things. Everyone benefits from poetry. And as you know, poetry is international. There are only two things that are truly international, poetry and wine.” – Nikki Giovanni

13. “Poems don’t have to rhyme. Poems are about beauty and emotion; in other words, poems are about feelings.” – Nikki Giovanni

14. “Everyone understands that love comes in many different packages and is used in many different ways. You cannot love beyond your years, nor can you fail to love beneath them. In other words, I think you get the love you need when you open your heart.” – Nikki Giovanni

15. “The only advice [for new writers and poets] I can offer is to be yourself: not the self-someone else wants you to be, but the self you are. Enjoy yourself and your life. But most of all travel and eat. That’s how we learn.” – Nikki Giovanni

16. “The ability to take pride in your own work is one of the hallmarks of sanity.” – Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni quotes to help you make a positive difference in your life and the lives of others

17. “If I can’t have what I want . . . then my job is to want what I’ve got and be satisfied that at least there is something more to want.” – Nikki Giovanni

18. “I hope I die warmed by the life that I tried to live.” – Nikki Giovanni

19. “Once you know who you are, you don’t have to worry anymore.” – Nikki Giovanni

20. “The world is not a pleasant place to be without someone to hold and be held by.” – Nikki Giovanni

You might also like these Pablo Neruda quotes that will leave you questioning life and love.

Nikki Giovanni quotes that will make you think outside the box

21. “Life is a process where people mix and match, fall apart and come back together.” – Nikki Giovanni

22. “No one needs to teach you to be mean; we need to be taught to be kind.” – Nikki Giovanni

23. “The only way you can grow is to let yourself make mistakes and create contradictions. As we learn new things, some of our old attitudes will change.” – Nikki Giovanni

24. “If you are sitting there waiting for someone to tell you how wonderful you are, you’ll never get anything done. Women need to get over being women. I’m tired of that socialization of women; that we are always supposed to be sitting around pleasing somebody.” – Nikki Giovanni

25. “We have a world to conquer…one person at a time…starting with ourselves.” – Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni quotes that will make you think outside the box

26. “There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.” – Nikki Giovanni

27. “We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.” – Nikki Giovanni

28. “Everybody owns themselves. It’s all we’ve got. We have every right to be us. We have every right to satisfy our own needs with the life that we were given. I have no idea, no concept, of why people could ever thing that they could own other people.”  – Nikki Giovanni

29. “I am a huge fan of the Black woman. I never hesitate to recommend her when times are bad or things go wrong.” – Nikki Giovanni
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of quotes from black women for a boost of inspiration.

30. “You do what you can with what you have. You have to work the edges whatever they are. The main thing is keeping your integrity.” – Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni quotes on life and creativity

31. “A lot of people refuse to do things because they don’t want to go naked, don’t want to go without guarantee. But that’s what’s got to happen. You go naked until you die.” – Nikki Giovanni

32. “Everybody that loves freedom loves Harriet Tubman because she was determined not only to be free, but to make free as many people as she could.” – Nikki Giovanni

33. “If you were a pure bolt of fire-cutting the skies I’d touch you-risking my life-not because I’m brave or strong, but because I’m fascinated by what the outcome would be.” – Nikki Giovanni

34. “In order to have a happy ending, in order to be triumphant, in order to be heroic, you have to tell your own story. The women’s movement knows that; black people know that; brown people know that; yellow people know that. You have to be able to tell your own story in order to show that you are worthy–that you belong.” – Nikki Giovanni

35. “The unwillingness to try is worse than any failure.” – Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni quotes on life and creativity

36. “Before you jump off a bridge or hang yourself or be unhappy please consider: live for yourself; those who hate you have no purchase.” – Nikki Giovanni

37. “I am honest; I try to be truthful. I like people and wish us well. We are not always deserving of our own best wishes.” – Nikki Giovanni

38. “If I could come back as anything – I’d be a bird, first, but definitely the command key is my second choice.” – Nikki Giovanni

39. “I like what they’re doing. I think they’re doing a good job, and I know that a lot of people are upset by them. These are great young men and women, and they’re bold, and they are saying to America, “Something’s going to change.” I’m very proud of them.” – Nikki Giovanni

40. “Just as nature abhors a vacuum, humans resist change. Change will occur; vacuums will be filled.” – Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni quotes to inspire and teach

41. “We are all either wheels or connectors. Whichever we are we must find truth and balance, which is a bicycle. Trust and balance are also essential to true love.” – Nikki Giovanni

42. “My main strength as a young writer was that I had no fear of making mistakes. I knew I would and I knew I could and would learn from them.” – Nikki Giovanni

43. “We love because it’s the only true adventure” – Nikki Giovanni

44. “We write because we believe the human spirit cannot be tamed and should not be trained.”  – Nikki Giovanni

45. “You must invent your own games and teach us old ones how to play.”  – Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni quotes to inspire and teach

46. “Kevin Powell is pushing to bring, as he has so brilliantly done before, the voices of his generation: the concerns, the cares, the fears and the fearlessness.” – Nikki Giovanni

47. “Poetry and music are very good friends. Like mommies and daddies and strawberries and cream – they go together.” – Nikki Giovanni

48. “Don’t want to be near you for the thoughts we share but the words we never have to speak.” – Nikki Giovanni

49. “Everything will change. The only question is growing up or decaying.” – Nikki Giovanni

50. “Art is not for the cultivated taste. It is to cultivate taste.” – Nikki Giovanni

More Nikki Giovanni quotes and sayings

51. “If you’re a writer, the answer to everything is yes.”― Nikki Giovanni

52. “We cannot leave it to history as a discipline nor to sociology nor science nor economics to tell the story of our people.”― Nikki Giovanni

53. “I move on feeling and have learned to distrust those who don’t.”― Nikki Giovanni

54. “Why would there be a destination when life itself is a journey? You go not to get there but to be there.”― Nikki Giovanni

55. “VISIBILITY – You’ve got to find a way to make people know you’re there.”― Nikki Giovanni

56. “No matter what else is wrong in the world a book will take you away from it.”― Nikki Giovanni

57. “If I can’t do what I want to do, then my job is to not do what I want to do. It’s not the same thing, but it’s the best thing I can do.”― Nikki Giovanni

58. “I mine the human soul
For undiscovered strength.”― Nikki Giovanni

59. “Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to error that counts.”― Nikki Giovanni

60. “The problem with love is not what we feel but what we wish we felt when we began to feel we should feel something.”― Nikki Giovanni

61. “Black Poetry is not for Black People…it is for everybody.” – Nikki Giovanni

62. “And mostly we need to pick and choose Who we listen to so we follow our own path Yeah we need to follow our own path.” – Nikki Giovanni

63. “Of the many foundations upon which humans rest, words are probably the most solid.” – Nikki Giovanni

Did you enjoy these Nikki Giovanni quotes?

One of the world’s most well-known American poets, Nikki Giovanni has helped to define the African-American voice. She has always insisted on presenting the truth as she sees it and remains committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality.

Giovanni inspires readers and audiences worldwide. Hopefully, the above quotes have inspired you to make a positive difference in your life and the lives of others.

Did you enjoy these Nikki Giovanni quotes? Which of the quotes was your favorite? Tell us in the comment section below. We would love to hear all about it.

Norbert Juma, Lead Editor
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  1. Quanda R. Graves (Until)

    February 27, 2019 at 12:39 PM

    I loved that you decided to do this article about Nikki and her inspiring words. I always felt as though her and I were synonymous of each other. As a lot if her quotes I live by, #8 #9 #5 #13 and more of course. I met her in the year of 2007 and I was in the process of getting ready to publish my book. So I asked her a question. Should I go to school to finish my book or just publish it. Nikki, “Publish it. See where it takes you.” Seven years later I did, and sent her a copy. She said liked what I was doing. She also said she liked my pen name, that it was hopeful. She is inspiring, motivating and just a beautiful human being. ~Until

  2. Virginia

    February 26, 2019 at 2:34 PM

    Yes I loved the quotes. It teaches me to pick up myself and start writing. She is a gift that I treasure.

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