Nikki Giovanni Honoured/Poet’s Museum In Dispute – Poetry News Roundup February 2nd

Today’s poetry news round-up looks at an honorary degree for Nikki Giovanni and the museum dedicated to a poet that is in the middle of a dispute over ownership of artifacts.

Best Selling American Poet, Nikki Giovanni, Awarded Honorary Degree

The University of the South highlights the accomplishments each semester of a range of accomplished professionals from a range of very diverse fields. These individuals are granted an honorary degree. One of the most well read and renowned poets in America, Nikki Giovanni, is one of their most recent honourees.

A Professor at Virginia Tech, Giovanni, has been there since 1987. She has also published several collections of essays, a number of children’s books and 10 volumes of poetry aimed at adults.

The award was presented during a special reading with took place on 13th January. Giovanni herself read some of her work and a number of students from the university also joined in with readings as well as talking about the inspiration that the poet has had on their own work. The ceremony was followed by a question and answer session.

Indiana Poet’s Museum in Dispute Troubles

A museum dedicated to the life of James Whitcomb Riley, a famed Indiana poet, is in the middle of a dispute over the control of its collection of artifacts.

Officials for Greenfield City are arguing that the group who run the museum are unable to offer any proof of ownership for the majority of the items in the collection, which is currently housed at the James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home and Museum. The collection includes paintings, furniture, and writings.

The home which is where Riley grew up has been owned by the city since the 1930s. However the Riley Old Home Society has always maintained the artefacts belonging to the poet, who rose to fame in the late 1880s, and it is these artifacts that are currently at the heart of an ownership dispute. In January, the City notified the Society that they would be terminating a lease agreement that was in place between both parties for the second floor of the museum. They have been renting the floor for a nominal fee of $1 per year.

The Society have been advised that they will not be allowed to remove the artifacts that are currently stored on that floor unless they are able to show that they are the rightful owners. The problem is that over the years many of the artefacts have simply been dropped off at the museum by individuals who wanted to donate them but did not realise that the museum and the society were, in fact, two separate bodies.

The Society are claiming that their work over the years in acquiring artifacts related to the poet have been well documented and without this work there would not have been so much for interested parties to see at the museum. It is now believed that the cancellation of the lease may force the artifacts to be placed in storage or with other museums whilst the issue is sorted out. Splitting up or indeed moving the collection to another museum could put the Greenfield site’s future in jeopardy.


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