“It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you,” Toni Morrison wrote in her novel “Sula.”

Poet Nikki Giovanni took inspiration from those words in choosing the title for a tribute to her long-time friend. At Virginia Tech in 2012, Giovanni hosted “Sheer Good Fortune” to celebrate Morrison’s legacy. Among the hundreds gathered were literary legends Maya Angelou and Rita Dove.

“Toni was very special to all of us,” said Giovanni. “Right now our hearts are breaking. But she was in pain, so I’m glad she’s out of pain. I dreamt of her just the night before last; I’m sure going to miss her.”

About Giovanni: Nikki Giovanni, an internationally celebrated poet, is a University Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she has taught poetry since 1987.

She has published more than two dozen volumes of poetry, essays, and edited anthologies, as well as 11 illustrated children’s books, including “Rosa,”an award-winning biography of Rosa Parks. Giovanni’s autobiography, “Gemini,” was a finalist for the 1973 National Book Award. In 2004, her album, “The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection,” was a Grammy finalist for the Best Spoken Word Album.

Giovanni has long used her literary gifts to raise awareness of social issues, particularly those of gender and race. She has received numerous awards, including the inaugural Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, the American Book Award, the Langston Hughes Award, the Virginia Governor’s Award for the Arts, the Emily Couric Leadership Award, and the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Library of Virginia. She is also a seven-time recipient of the NAACP Image Award.

Schedule an interview: Contact Michael Stowe at mstowe@vt.edu or 540-231-2611.

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