By Harold Bloom
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Additional info for African-American Poets, Volume 2, New Edition (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
Giovanni finds her answers in “My House”: i’m saying it’s my house and i’ll make fudge and call it love and touch my lips to the chocolate warmth and smile at old men and call it revolution cause what’s real is really real and i still like men in tight Sweet Soft Essence of Possibility: The Poetry of Nikki Giovanni 23 pants cause everybody has some thing to give and more important need something to take and this is my house and you make me happy so this is your poem Giovanni has exchanged the role of revolutionary Mother Courage, sending her Black troops into battle, for the role of domestic Black woman, making fudge for her Black man.
If she implicitly questioned “pure” revolution earlier, in the seventies she questions all ideologies that try to define or categorize her. In “Categories” she writes: and sometimes on rainy nights you see an old white woman who maybe you’d really â•‡ care about 24 William J. Â€. Â€. Â€. i can’t breathe And we see in “A Poem Off Center” that Giovanni especially resents being boxed in as a writer: if you write a political poem you’re anti-semitic if you write a domestic poem you’re foolish if you write a happy poem you’re unserious if you write a love poem you’re maudlin of course the only real poem to write Sweet Soft Essence of Possibility: The Poetry of Nikki Giovanni 25 is the go to hell writing establishment poem but the readers never know who you’re talking about which brings us back to point one She has amusingly illustrated the dangers of literary categories.
Possibility has become stillborn. Cotton Candy’s bleak title poem provides a good example of the problems the reader faces in trying to evaluate Giovanni. Even though the poem is not a total success, it is better than it appears on casual reading. At first the title seems totally sentimental: “cotton candy” conjures up images of sticky, sappy love—it seems to catapult us into the world of Rod McKuen. 26 William J. Harris In fact, the publisher exploits this aspect of Giovanni’s art by giving us a sentimental soft-pink cover featuring a drawing of a dreamy, romantic woman.