The 2015 LA Writers Conference at Mount Saint Mary’s University featured a keynote address from legendary poet Nikki Giovanni. Along with penning numerous poetry collections and children’s books, Giovanni is also a pioneer of the spoken word tradition that gave rise to hip-hop. She was a prolific figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and has continued to write and speak on issues like race and gender to this day. In this video interview, LARB editor-in-chief Tom Lutz talks with Giovanni about the Black Writers Conference that she founded as a student at Fisk University in the 1960s, her relationship with Muhammad Ali and countless other cultural and civil rights leaders, and about the value of writing for children.

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Tom Lutz is the editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books.