VANCOUVER, Wash. — African American poet, novelist and award winner Nikki Giovanni will kick off Washington State University Vancouver’s annual Professional Writing Series at an open lecture and discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 in the Student Services Building lecture hall.

Giovanni is known for her radical style of poetry that often reflects the African American struggle for racial equality. She has written more than 20 books of poetry addressing race, gender, politics, sexuality, artistic identity, family and work including “Blues: For All the Changes,” “My House” and “Racism 101.” A University Distinguished Professor and Professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Giovanni is a graduate of Fisk University. She has received a number of honorary doctorates from U.S. colleges and universities including Indiana University, University of Maryland and Smith College.

Future speakers in the Professional Writing Series include novelist Ursula Le Guin, Feb. 21 and a panel on “Copywriting — From TV Commercials to Press Releases,” March 7. All lectures begin at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Sponsors include the WSU Vancouver Professional Writing Program, the WSU Vancouver Diversity Task Force, the WSU Vancouver College of Liberal Arts, Clark College, the Associated Students of WSU Vancouver and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Vancouver Branch 1139.

For more information, call (360) 546-9575. WSU Vancouver is located at 14204 N.E. Salmon Creek Ave., just east of I-5 and I-205 off the 134th Street exit.