Form and Content
Ego-Tripping and Other Poems for Young People is a creative, harmonious collection of twenty-two poems that are representative of some of Nikki Giovanni’s best works. Included in the collection are several poems from previous publications. Speaking primarily in the first person, the poetic voice, or persona, is unmistakably the poet herself as exemplified in her most-often-anthologized poem, “nikki-rosa.” In this poem, the poet chronicles a happy childhood in spite of the many hardships that she endured, including her father’s drinking and poverty. Ultimately, as in every poem in this collection, the conclusion is hopeful, celebrating “Black love” and “Black wealth.” George Ford’s black-and-white illustrations depicting African heritage and sketches of black children in play help to clarify and dramatize the meanings of the poems. Ford creates a thematic canvas that artfully displays Giovanni’s poetry.
Integrated into the collection is a playful sense of humor that involves readers, drawing them into the experiences at the onset. For example, the “kidnap poem” addresses the reader as “you,” bringing the reader into the poem to be kidnapped by the poet. This simple yet provocative poem captures the essence or unifying element of the poetry. Giovanni, like Walt Whitman or Langston Hughes, asks for involvement from the reader—offering the opportunity to play, sing, to be a child again. In fact, when Giovanni was asked...
(The entire section is 448 words.)