Science fiction author Michael Casher dusts the cobwebs off previously unused sections of his brain.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Remembrance of Stings Past

I once asked poet Nikki Giovanni to autograph one of her books for me at an after-recital reception but she simply ignored my request. She wouldn't even look at me.

I looked around the room and saw that I was the only white person at the reception in the Walnut Building on Penn State University's main campus at University Park, PA. As I was about to leave and make everyone there happy (especially Nikki Giovanni), the man who was responsible for her appearance at this particular function took my book and pressed Ms. Giovanni to sign it. She reluctantly signed it and handed it back to him without looking at either one of us. I politely thanked both of them and left. When I got home I noticed that she had merely scribbled in the book. That stung, but only for a moment.

If I recall correctly, it was 1978 and I haven't read anything by her since. I can't even remember why I would read any of her stuff in the first place let alone traipse off to Schwab Auditorium to hear her "pissed-and-proud" brand of racist, feminist poetry and then skulk over to Walnut Building to make a fool out of myself seeking her autograph. But I know damn well why I did it. Back then I liked modern free-verse poetry and I didn't hate others because of their race or gender or whatever like a lot of other people. I still don't. But I have evolved. Thank heavens. Today, I wouldn't even give someone like Nikki Giovanni the time of day.

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