Nikki Giovanni: Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. One of the most widely read American poets, she prides herself on being “a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English.”

I first heard Nikki Giovanni when I was a sophomore in college. In those days we  listened to everything on vinyl.  ‘Ego Tripping’ was the first of her poems I listen too; and to this day is still one of many favorites from that time period. I highly recommend listening to the recorded version. The words are powerful, but to hear her say them, you’ll be blown away.

Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat’s meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can’t catch me

For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean…I…can fly
like a bird in the sky…

Nikki Giovanni

3 responses to “Nikki Giovanni: Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

  1. I just found a recording from YouTube. Take a listen when you get a chance.

  2. Hi Marie,
    Thank you for the comment. This is one her earlier works. I too love the lyrics of poet Gil Scott-Heron.
    ‘Truth Is On Its Way’ is the name of the recording you can purchase on iTunes. All of the poetry recited by Nikki Giovanni is well worth the listen.

  3. Very much in the vein of the African-American Renaissance (I actually dislike that term, but it is an all-too-convenient cultural label) of the late 60s and early 70s. Echoes of Gil Scott-Heron but at the same time very female. Is this one of her earlier works? I’m ashamed to say I am not very familiar with her writings.

    Marie Marshall