On August 31, 1969, Giovanni gave birth to her son, Thomas Watson Giovanni
At the time there were very few single mothers, and Giovanni
remembers the reaction.
"They…said I was setting a bad example….
It was none of their business.
I'm not a role model, and I've
had big arguments with people about that.
I just try to live my life and be a decent human being.
says that Thomas
, who is now twenty-nine, made her
look more closely at the "needs and interests of children.
Since then, she
has written six books for children, including the recent favorite, The Geni in the Jar.
After serving two teaching positions at Queens College and Rutgers University, Giovanni started NikTom, Ltd, a communications company, and edited an anthology of poetry by African-American women.
writing was immensely popular, especially her
Decades before the emergence of hip-hop and rap into popular culture, Giovanni
was recording her
poems with gospel choirs and other music.
In 1972, Truth won NARTA's
(National Association of Radio and Television Announcers) Award for Best Spoken Word Album.
career continued throughout the next three decades as she
published volume after volume of her
poetry and toured the country giving lectures.
She has been given the Life Membership and Scroll by the National Council of Negro Women, named an honorary commissioner for the President's Commission on the International Year of the Child, and awarded with seven honorary doctorates.
Awards and titles decorate her
biographies, but Giovanni
insists, "I was not that adventurous in life…I'd be the one standing in the corner writing down everything that happened."
writing has admittedly softened since the years of her
militant fight for civil rights, Giovanni
does not shy away from conflict.
In 1984, she was teaching English at The Ohio State University while receiving bomb and death threats for her opposition to the artist boycott of South Africa.
Political organization TransAfrica blacklisted her
, but Giovanni's career lived on; she
toured Europe on a speaking tour the year after.
Giovanni currently teaches at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
She is a voice for all types of Americans -- she has been labeled an Appalachian writer and a Southern writer; she is a female poet and an African-American poet, a mother, a teacher, and a cancer survivor.
early years as an activist gave voice to the pain and anger of an oppressed race, while her
recent writing works through the emotions of our time and culture.
"You only have so much time," she