Storytelling, With a Lack of Punctuation and a Focus on the Black Experience
Giovanni has developed a signature style of poetry that leaps out at you from the page. Her goal is to take the emphasis off grammar and literary conventions and to keep us focused on the storytelling aspect of her work. So we get very little punctuation or capitalization, but a whole lot of flow.
The best way to experience the effect of this style is to listen to Giovanni perform her poetry. Luckily, there are many, many recordings (both video and audio) of her doing just this, so get out there and take a listen. (Or just hit up our "Best of the Web" section.) You'll understand her style immediately when you hear her.
You can also identify a Nikki Giovanni poem by its subject matter. She's considered one of the strongest voices of black women in the writing community, so you can bet she will be addressing issues that affect both of those groups. Giovanni also explores more universal topics, but she's especially well-known for these concerns.