Thursday, June 11, 2020

#PoetryFriday - Nothing Nicer Than Celebrating Nikki Grimes

       It's Poetry Friday, and on this very special day with Irene Latham at Live Your Poem hosting, we've been invited by Irene to a celebration.  Janet Fagal joins me today for this post, both of us shouting out a HOORAY for the life and work of talented and awesome Nikki Grimes. Thanks for hosting the party, Irene!

       You can find Nikki in a myriad of places these days, HERE on her web page and HERE at The Poetry Foundation are two. She's on twitter, @nikkigrimes9, and in these times of unrest and protests, she's been writing heartfelt poems there, along with all the other projects happening in her life.  Of course, the best places you can find Nikki Grimes lie in her books! 

        I could return to old memories of books I've loved by Nikki. I could sing her praises for the most recent picture books like Southwest Sunrise illustrated by Wendell Minor, or show my gratitude for a new picture book biography coming later this year about Kamala Harris. I have just finished Nikki's memoir, Ordinary Hazards, out last year. I haven't shared a review yet, but what struck me, what Nikki gives to me, the reader, from this book along with all her other books is a heart-full of words that tell about life. 

      Thus, I'm celebrating, honoring her with a few more. Thank you, Nikki and congratulations for the many honors you've been given!

from a line from “Journey”, p. 61, Ordinary Hazards
             Celebrating Nikki's Words

Whenever I search for The
poem I know will touch me Daily
I often March
to find another book of
perfect words
by – bet you can guess – Nikki Grimes, parading
quietly but readily pulled from
the poetry shelf, to search for my
way into Nikki’s poems to inspire the pen
keenly kept
waiting for me
to write like Nikki (I hoped) moving
into new territories of words, moving forward.

                                              Linda Baie (c)

           Janet celebrates with a few special memories of being with Nikki and from her book, Words With Wings.

Knowing Nikki Grimes
          Despite problems, there are very good things about social media and FB. It was there that I began to connect with Nikki Grimes. Now I consider her a friend. At first, I was an admirer of her huge and important body of work, the photos of her glorious roses, and her openness about sharing her faith and ideas. In 2018 Nikki came to my community to visit two schools. One in my town and one in a neighboring city.  I was her host and we spent quite a bit of time together. We went to the Harriet Tubman Home and Park and also to Harriet’s graveside. We met Harriet’s nieces. It is hard to find the words I need to speak about that time together. Later at lunch when the cover of Ordinary Hazards came to her email she shared it with me and the librarian who was with us. I felt honored. Special. Happy. That cover is extraordinary as is her memoir. Nikki uses her voice to teach, and show us so much about life. Again and again. Her list of awards speaks volumes for her incredible talent and hard work. Her words pull me in every time. But to honor Nikki I want to talk about a favorite book.

         Words with Wings is a book that has spoken to me since I was able to read an early ARC thanks to being at Highlights Foundation and meeting Rebecca Davis. I “knew” and loved Ed Spicer, from FB . What a wise, compassionate, brilliant teacher. I miss his posts with videos of his classroom. How thrilled I was to see that Nikki put him in her book.  I adored the story in verse and the way Nikki showed how important it is for a teacher to truly see and understand a child. To figure out what that child needs to grow and thrive. To be creative and to take risks to incorporate new ideas. To encourage daydreaming and imagination and hope. And poetry. It is one of my all-time favorite books. Children need us to help them learn that changing the world is possible. I give this book as a gift and share it with students when I substitute teach or visit classrooms as a poetry advocate.  One time in a fourth grade I read it cover to cover. After a boy with some learning issues came and hugged me. His eyes were like saucers as I read.
         In addition to the Coretta Scott King Award Honor book, this book is an NCTE Children's Literature Assembly, 2014 Notable Book, and one of Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2013. It was a finalist for many other awards including the Lee Bennett Hopkins Penn State Award. If you have not read it, don’t wait. Then read everything else she has ever written. 

Thank you, Nikki, for everything. May you continue to thrive in all ways. 


  1. What a marvelous post. I'm loving this party already! It's so fun to see everyone's take on a celebration of Nikki Grimes work. And, golden shovel really is the perfect form for a celebration today. We know she loves that form. I love how this line is the heart of this post, "by – bet you can guess – Nikki Grimes, parading." I think I'll refill my cup and read some more.

  2. Linda, not only does your love of poetry allows you to pick up your pen to be inspired by the vast amount of reading that you do but it moves you "into new territories of words" that inspires me and many others. Hence, your golden shovel is truly a wonderful poem that shares your hopes and dreams. "Ordinary Hazards" sounds like a must-read book. Thank you for sharing your post with Janet who offers more poetry goodness on Nikki, including the wonderful interview by Kenn Nesbitt.

  3. I so love this post.. .particularly "parading." :) And so great to read Janet's memories, too. Thanks to both! xo

  4. Great post ladies! Words with Wings is one of my favorites, too!

  5. I'm loving all the Nikki-inspired golden shovels today! What a fabulous post; can't wait to read Ordinary Hazards. And thanks to Janet for her lovely memories!

  6. You both have inspired me to read all of the Nikki's titles I've missed! And thank you both for sharing your words, your memories, and your continued passion for poetry. :)

  7. Thank you, Linda, for your poem of tribute ending in two important words, "moving forward. And Janet, just great photos of your time with Nikki at the Tubman House. Thank you for sharing those.

  8. Wonderful golden shovel, Linda, and thanks for sharing your time with Nikki, Janet!

  9. Thanks to all for enjoying Janet's & my celebration for Nikki. I've been with my granddaughters all day, will catch up with all the posts soon! What marvelous posts I've read so far!

  10. Thanks Linda and Janet for this rich collection you've both offered us celebrating Nikki Grimes! And what a beautiful and clever golden shovel poem you grew Linda, from Nikki's line– I remember that line from "Ordinary Hazards, and I love that it inspired a poem about poems you're searching for.

  11. What a cool poem honoring Nikki! Fantastic, Linda! And Janet, Words with of my favorites, too :>)

  12. Thank you, Michelle & Laura. What a wonderful idea Irene had & it's been lovely to write for Nikki & to read everyone's posts this Poetry Friday.

  13. Thank you both for a great post!

  14. I am also such an admirer of Nikki Grimes and her poetry. I look forward to reading everything she writes. I can really hear your feelings about her as a poet in your poem and what a wonderful compliment to use the golden shovel in her honor.

  15. Thanks, Mary Lee & Alex. What a terrific Poetry Friday weekend!

  16. Thank you for this! I love how so many of the Nikki Grimes posts are about personal connections with her. She sounds like such a generous person in addition to a wonderful artist!

    1. You're welcome, Ruth. This really was a joyful Poetry Friday about and for Nikki!


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