18 pages 36 minutes read

Nikki Giovanni

Ego Tripping

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1968

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Themes

Female Pride and Empowerment

Most of the poem’s lines begin with “I,” drawing attention to the poem’s speaker who identifies herself at the end of the second stanza as “a beautiful woman” (Line 15). The speaker’s repetition of the first person focuses attention on the most important individual in the poem: the speaker herself. The speaker is not only the most important person in the poem; she also happens to be the most important person who has ever existed since the beginning of time. The speaker’s hyperbolic assumption of her self-importance has both figurative and thematic significance; the exaggerations are metonymic because the speaker substitutes herself for the entirety of the female gender within the Black race.

The speaker employs a bold tone as she lists her many accomplishments, indicating her pride in herself. She includes her children among her many accomplishments, and they are all famously important historical figures: Her daughter is Nefertiti, an ancient Egyptian queen known for her beauty and intelligence; and her sons, Hannibal and Noah, are a Carthaginian general and a patriarch of the Old Testament, respectively. The speaker’s son Hannibal is three years old when the speaker gives him an elephant for his birthday, which is the same age as Giovanni’s own son at the time she wrote this poem.

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