Friday, June 12, 2020

celebrating nikki grimes

Inspired by others who are granting themselves a wise or well-earned break from activities and practices that feel heavy, I am taking a break from Poetry Friday this summer.
My focus this summer will be on writing--really WRITING-- for submission. 
I'll see you when I next host on August 28th!

Hoopla and huzzah!  Thanks to Irene Latham's thoughtfulness, today we celebrate the achievements the accomplishments the downright gift that is Nikki Grimes, poet, author and leader of the young people's poetry community.

My celebration is of ONE LAST WORD, Nikki's 2017 tribute in Golden Shovels to the poets of the Harlem Renaissance, in anticipation of her forthcoming LEGACY, a companion that highlights women poets of the Harlem Renaissance.  From ONE LAST WORD, here is Nikki's reworking of a line from "The Minor Key" by Clara Ann Thompson.

This poem, like so many of Nikki's, is truer than true, and yet right now in this moment we are all noticing the range of ways we selfsame human folk may itch with anger, sneeze with laughter, crack, peel, sigh.  Same and different, that concept we start working on in PreK and never stop learning.

I enjoy catching up a little with Nikki each year at NCTE, and in Baltimore last year I was lucky enough to spend a whole little dinner with her.  Here's a photo taken by Janet Fagal, who happened to be at the next table.  

As we finished dinner Nikki said, "But you didn't read me a poem." So I read her my collage poems for kindergarteners which I had brought for my session, right there in the Hilton restaurant!  One of the extraordinary things about Nikki is her range, her ability to write for the ears and hearts of our youngest right up to our most adult young adults; she listened with pleasure and respect. 

Hoopla and huzzah once again for our treasure, Nikki Grimes!

Visit Live Your Poem with Irene to find links to the Poetry Friday round-up, and may the wisdom and wonder of Nikki accompany you through the week.


  1. I love this picture. Love knowing you were reading a poem that Nikki insisted you read. So much of poetry (and life!) is listening... BEAUTIFUL. And thank you for the peek into LEGACY. xo

  2. Seeing you sitting next to Nikki Grimes is the most natural thing to see. You are both doing the work of nurturing the poet heart in me and in the children that you teach.

  3. Huzzah is right! That's one thing I love about Nikki's writing her writing for young children, she's simultaneously hooking the adult reader. She cares about the young ones and takes care to write for them. Great post and photo, Heidi!

  4. Nikki's poem of truth is one I wish could stand and be shouted in all the people places, everyone responding with that "selfsame sigh". Thanks, Heidi!

  5. I am so SO excited about Legacy! Thanks for the peek! And that picture. Such a perfect Poet Moment!

    1. Thank you, everyone, but I seem to haven the impression that “Common”Denominator “ is from LEGACY. It’s actually from ONE LAST WORD...and a lasting word, at that!

  6. The last two lines of Nikki's poem are so powerful, if only they would open hearts and minds that seem closed… What a wonderful time you two shared together, love the photo, thanks Heidi!

  7. A thousand hearts echo the sigh-what a beautiful line to start a new poem! Thanks for sharing the new book and a great poem.

  8. I've been enjoying reading Nikki words in the PF community and being inspired. Her poem, Common Denominator, resonates keenly: "Peel us to the core, we're indistinguishable." - YES!

  9. What a beautiful story--and thank you for the LEGACY peek. Can't wait to read that one. With a sigh...

  10. Thank you for sharing "Common Denominator," Heidi. I think I need to reread One Last Word this summer. I'm sure many of Nikki's amazing poems will take on a different meaning after the events of the past few weeks. Recognizing that "selfsame sigh" is something we all need to keep working at. BTW, that picture is a treasure!

  11. Lovely post. I'll really miss you in Poetry Friday this summer. <3

  12. I thought I'd left a comment here when I read this last week! I loved this post, and I will miss you very much over the summer. See you in the fall!


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