Toward Pedagogies and Methodologies of Collaboration, Inclusion, and Voice
10. The Politics and Poetics of Oral History in Qualitative Research: This One’s for Nikki Giovanni
Not long ago, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of having Nikki Giovanni—world renowned poet, commentator, activist, and educator—dedicate a reading of “Nikki Rosa” to me. My college’s English department had invited her to evaluate the creative work (poetry and fiction) of our talented students, and to give a public reading of her own work. I dashed to the airport with a colleague in the department to pick up our esteemed guest, who had arrived earlier than expected and who had been waiting for more than an hour. Let me just say that Nikki Giovanni was not very happy when I greeted her alone in the airport. Besides the fact that she had been waiting for quite a long time, Giovanni apparently had expected to be picked up by my colleague with whom she had been corresponding all day. “Dr. Giovanni!” I shouted with excitement when I saw her. “Yeeesss, and who are you?” she answered with the worry and grimace of someone being stalked. After some explanation, she demanded to know: “Where is the person that I have been calling for over an hour?” and “Why have a cell phone if you are not going to answer it?”
The beginning of the ride back to campus was tense—very tense. Cautiously, I attempted to break the tension and her silence by formally introducing myself, albeit in a rambling manner: “I work in the Education department but I was trained as a sociologist—a historical sociologist actually;...
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