February 25th - Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day

Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day - Nikki Giovanni, 1978

I'm running a few days behind after a stressful week and uh stressful weekend. Bear with me - at the end of this we'll have 365 entries!

Thinking about it, it should really be obvious that poets have reading voices that compliment their writing styles - I can't imagine someone writing poetry without at the very least imagining it read. But in listening to read poetry on a fairly regular basis for the first time in my life I'm always surprised at how well matched reading styles are to the actual poems. Nikki Giovanni's voice in particular is perfect for her terse, dense work. Giovanni reads fast, and her poems are so filled with concepts and imagery, one after the other, that it feels like literary prize-fighting - to the point where her final piece, That Day, feels like proto-hip hop.

The content is fantastic as well, although I might be biased as someone who lives in New York. The pieces describe the life of a black woman in New York with a lot of truth, and are in turns funny, pained, sexy and moving. Giovanni herself has had an incredible career - it's really interesting to read this biography, which specifically mentions this album as being fairly non-political by her standards. That may be so, and maybe I should have picked one of her other albums for Folkways, but I really really enjoyed this one.

Click here to read liner notes and purchase this album from Smithsonian Folkways