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Spirit to Spirit: Nikki Giovanni (VHS) Email This Page
Filmmaker: Mirra Bank
VHS - $ 95.00
Price includes Public Performance License.
Once crowned "The Princess of Black Poetry," the prolific and political Nikki Giovanni has become one of America's most popular poets. The film highlights the life and work of a poet whose verse appeals to everyone interested in poetry and modern American life. This lyrical and visually provocative film details the poet's coming-of-age against the background of her times: the Civil Rights struggle, Vietnam, and the Women`s Movement. In this dynamic portrait, selected readings by Giovanni reveal the values and personal history which have deeply influenced her poetry.Spirit to Spirit unveils the sly wit and sharp insights of Giovanni's multi-layered work, making it a delightful introduction to this talented poet and incisive social commentator.

Giovanni`s work embraced both personal and political subjects and the film captures and evolution evident in her work and in her life. A particularly powerful sequence, featuring newsreel footage of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X , reflects on the important people and events of the 1960s and the influence of that decade on individuals and America as a whole. In another segment of the film, she recalls a youthful commitment to her black heritage and explains the importance of family in her own development and as an institution in the black community. Through her poems she becomes a spokesperson on social injustices, sexual politics and popular culture. As she surveys the world around her, no subject is protected from her critical and mischievous poetic eye. Her criticism can be humorous, gentle or angry as she demands that her world become a better place. In a poem from the 1960s which reflects on the bitterness of the era, Poem for Black Boys, her tone chastises black youth: "play back to Black...grow a natural and practice vandalism." But often, the film portrays her clever optimism, as in Ego Tripping when she writes: "I am so hip even my errors are correct." Skillfully weaving performance footage with evocative photo-montage, archival footage and colorful animation, the film is a journey re-creating the history of the poet and the country.

Spirit to Spirit offers a compelling interpretation of serious concerns ranging from racism to romance. A charismatic, complex and talented artist, Giovanni shines as she reads her work. The film moves at a lively pace as her words are complemented by colorful imagery and a rhythmic musical score. Spirit to Sprit is a wonderful discovery for those unfamiliar with Giovanni`s work and a meaningful beginning for everyone who has said, "I don`t understand poetry." It is an important addition to all public library collections and is of particular interest for courses in poetry, Black literature, American social history, cultural history and women's studies.

Running time: 28 min, Year released: 1987
Close captioned?: Y, Color?: Y
Avail. formats: 16mm,VHS
ISBN: 1-55974-129-5
Language: English, Subtitled?: N
For classroom?: Y, Study Guide?: N
Grade level: 7th and up


"Nikki Giovanni has managed to overcome this country's determined lack of enthusiasm for verse...Spirit to Spirit is a good introduction to Giovanni and a welcome antidote to versaphobia."
--The Washington Post

"Talent is light, but mature talent is a beacon and Nikki Giovanni has by her own words joined that small band of talented people who try to show us all the way to go home."
--The Los Angeles Times

Other Credits:

Produced and Directed by Mirra Bank
Executive Produced by Perrin Ireland
Funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts
CINE Golden Eagle
This title can also be found in: African-American Culture & History, Artists, Musicians & Performers, Authors, Biographies, CINE Golden Eagle Award Winner, Civil Rights, Feminism, Literature and Literary Portraits, Poetry, Racial Issues, U.S. History, U.S.A., Vietnam, Women's Movement, Women's Studies, Writers

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