11
Oct
10

Ego Tripping: All Praises to the Poet

“I turned myself into myself and was Jesus

Men intone my loving name

All praises

All praises

I am the one who would save.

-Nikki Giovanni, “Ego Tripping”

I often have difficulty praising myself.  I would like to say that this is a problem for many or most women, but I lack the statistics to state this as a fact rather than postulation.  After all, it is not only misery who loves company; all of our human shortcomings search for friends.  Nikki Giovanni, an honored and widely published African-American female poet, mastered the art of self-praise in her trademark poem, “Ego-Tripping”.  She makes use of such phraseology as, “The tears from my birth pains created the Nile, I am a beautiful woman.”(Giovanni, 2003)  A woman cannot read these words aloud without experiencing an energetic surge of self-confidence.

On the other hand, some people may read words such as, “I turned myself into myself and was Jesus”, within Giovanni’s poem and say, “What ego!  How could this woman position herself as Jesus!  What blasphemy!”  Here, the issue becomes very touchy depending on the stringency of one’s religious beliefs.  Is it blasphemy to compare a woman, the physical conduit of human life on earth, to the Christian ‘savior of mankind’?  Is woman not in essence the ‘savior of mankind’ as well for continuing to produce human life?  In many creation stories worldwide, woman has instead been painted as the provocation of man’s downfall from Paradise.

Nikki Giovanni very eloquently challenges this belief system while asserting belief in herself in “Ego Tripping”  We could all take a lesson from her bold statements in re-evaluating our personal confidence levels.  So many religions, therefore, so many societies place women as a source of evil, temptation, and seduction that can only be useful if having learned submission and maintaining a humble position of inferiority to men.  Because of this, it is all the more difficult as a woman to grant oneself a strong vote of confidence from an internal position of power.  In the spirit of reclaiming this power, let me be the second to say (Giovanni was the first), “men intone my loving name, all praises, all praises, I am the one who would save.”

References:

Giovanni, N. (2003). The collected poetry of Nikki Giovanni. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

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