Study Guide

A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long Admiration

By Nikki Giovanni

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Since the title of this poem ("A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long") is a dedication to… well, Mrs. Long, we know that we're in for some heavy-duty admiration. And we're not disappointed. Giovanni shows us a woman who acted as a mother and educator, a woman who nurtured the intellect and courage of the poet- and activist-to-be. But Giovanni's admiration is not limited to her amazing librarian; there's also a feeling of gratitude and nostalgia for the time and place. She appreciates the childhood that let her learn to enjoy good music and books and to feel love both inside and outside the home. Taken all together, these are the things that open the door into a world that is both exhilarating and frightening—you know, adulthood.

Questions About Admiration

  1. What does Giovanni admire most about Mrs. Long? What parts of the poem support your ideas?
  2. How do you read the first seven lines of the poem? Do you think Giovanni reflects happily back on the "slow" T.V. days, or does she feel differently about it?
  3. What is the poet's general feeling about her life in Knoxville as a child?
  4. How do you read the final stanza? For instance, how does Giovanni feel about the discovery of the "world [...] out there"?

Chew on This

Nikki Giovanni feels great admiration for Mrs. Long, but perhaps regrets the demands she placed on her librarian.

While Giovanni's poem for Mrs. Long is generally positive and gives us a sense that she led a happy life, we also get a peek at things that threaten her safety and stability.

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