Vonnie and I attended the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville yesterday. As we meandered from table to table, a well-known lady, head high, shoulders back, eyes assessing floated through the crowd and paused next to us. I didn't hesitate to introduce myself to Nikki Giovanni. I mean, what writer would? Gracous and warm person that she is, she focused her eyes on me as if I were someone important. Me?
We talked briefly about poetry, writing and Paris. I passed her some promotional material about my book, The Phantom Lady of Paris. She smiled and said she remembered well the turmoil of Paris in 1968.
Vonnie remarked on the genius of Ms. Giovanni's poetry. I added that genius is often knowing how and when to revise, and that obviously this winner of The Langston Hughes Award knew how to revise. Ms. Giovanni smiled and patted my arm in silent agreement. I hope some of her genius rubbed off.