Nikki Grimes

April 23, 2022

When I asked Nikki to take part in my National Poetry Month celebration, I knew the possibilities of books to discuss were many. Nikki writes in poetry and sometimes prose, from picture books to middle grade novels to young adult books.

Here, she reads from a picture book she and Wendell Minor created, Southwest Sunrise. It’s beautiful!

When I asked Nikki a question about her recent memoir, Ordinary Hazards (WordSong), she responded:

Q: Why did you choose verse when writing your memoir?

Grimes: I knew, going in, that I’d be addressing a lot of difficult content, including mental illness, sexual assault, and alcoholism. I wanted to be able to handle this material as delicately as possible, and poetry  is perfectly suited to that task. Symbolism, metaphor, and imagery make it possible to write about such topics honestly, without having to be coarse, or overly graphic, or titillating in any way. I could also vary the tension and the tone of those passages by interspersing poems that were light, or humorous. Poetry creates space for the reader to breathe which makes the heavier, darker passages easier to tolerate. That’s much more difficult to achieve in prose—not impossible, but more difficult, at least for me.

Thank you, Nikki. I am glad to share your experience with my readers.

Nikki Grimes and Wendell Minor

Poet Nikki Grimes and artist Wendell Minor created Southwest Sunrise (Bloomsbury Books)

Enjoy learning more at their websites: Nikki Grimes and Wendell Minor

Learn about these two books and all of Nikki’s books here.

Nancy Bo Flood

As a fish-brain surgeon or a rodeo poem wrangler, I have loved stories. I strongly believe that words – in poetry or prose – help heal our hearts and give us new eyes to see the world. I was first a research psychologist studying brain development at the University of Minnesota and London University before following my passion – writing for children. Learn more...