In Ego-Tripping and Other Poems for Young People, the poetic journey is both a personal and a universal one. The poems focus on childhood remembrances or those memories of the young adult trying to describe a chaotic world so that she can find her place in it. For example, “knoxville, tennessee” is told from the perspective of a young girl enjoying the freedom of summer in the South. For her, summer is to “go to the mountains with/ your grandmother/ and go barefooted/ and be warm/ all the time.” Told through a child’s point of view, these poems center on finding personal happiness, as illustrated in the poem “everytime it rains.” The young girl of the poem struggles “to find/ the end of a rainbow,” for she thinks that this will help her learn “how to laugh.” In the end, she still does not laugh, but she at least recognizes when something is comical. Capturing the pensiveness of children, the poet pairs this poem with another on the opposite page. Entitled “alone,” this poem also reiterates the self-absorption of children and shows that they can feel lonely even when they are with others: “i was lonely alone/ now i’m lonely/ with you.”
Through “poem for black boys” and “poem for my nephew,” the poet embraces the theme of black power and calls out to black children to do the same. “Where are your heroes, my little Black ones,” the speaker asks in “poem for black boys.” The answer at the conclusion of the poem is that they are...
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