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Poetry Provocation 6: Style Imitation

By Gillian Kessler:

Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping” is full of fire and grit. This powerful, imaginative work is both hyperbolic and historical, her images replete with global abandon. After reading the poem, imitate the sweeping, confident style and proclaim all your radness on the page. This is a place to go wild with imagery and fantasy.

Begin with the lines “I was born . . . / I walked . . . / I designed . . . / I am . . . ,” etc. See where your imagination takes you as you explore the parts of yourself that lie in your imagination, your history—both the known and the unknown.


Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

By Nikki Giovanni

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 sowed diamonds in my back yard

My bowels deliver uranium

the filings from my fingernails are

semi­precious 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 . . .


Share the poem and then define hyperbole. If you were to talk about yourself in the most exaggerated sense, bragging about your fabulousness, what would you say? Sometimes it’s fun to have the opportunity to brag, to celebrate, to proclaim. My 7th grader, Ruby, a few years back certainly captured Giovanni’s essence in her wonderful inspired poem below.


Dangerous Medicine

By Ruby Jenni, 7th grade

(inspired by Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”)

I was born in a nobody town called Bozeman, MT

I fell from the sky

breaking the earth where I landed,

leaving a scar so noticeable

they had to call me a meteorite

I radiate so much light

the sun hides itself away in shame

Everything I see will be my kingdom

and mine alone

I built the mountains as monuments in my name

My fury growled so fiercely I took an axe to the world

cracking open the Mariana Trench

My hair whips through the wind

creating threatening blizzards

I wove time together just to

make an unsolvable puzzle, each piece scarred with history

The stars rush down to blaze

across my cheek bones

The crescent moon forming on my brow,

an eternal crown

Cleopatra and I strode over the earth

Conquering love, and laughing at Rome,

who so many claim to have created

I cried at her death

My tears mixed with her salty blood

formed the Red and Black Seas

I lead the revolution for France

Joan of Arc and I arm in arm

When they sleep, wild creatures dream of me,

we run through forests, lightning crackles behind us

I am a poison that saves and a medicine that kills

From my encounter with Lewis Carroll he imagined

the fearsome Jabberwocky,

giving a dire warning to all who approach it

I was a pirate captain who ruled the waves

with a crew of savages

Treasure in their hearts and knives between their teeth

From the crashing ocean of my mind I created a pearl

so round, and so perfect,

I modeled the earth after it

When I shout towering trees shoot through the rough ground,

so old and tough no blade will ever bring it rushing down

When I sigh it sends wind's so cold

they created barren snow covered tundras

The swoop of my long coat

sending out an iridescent tide of Northern Lights

My bootprint made the Nazca lines,

worshipped as messages from the gods

The immortally spangled night sky

Is my wings,

one flap and I soar through the centuries

I am so untamed, so inconceivable, so extraordinary

I will not be moved nor trapped except by my own philosophies

I will be forever and always

Yet only glimpsed in seconds…


Gillian Kessler is a poet, teacher, and a regular writer for Flapper Press. Her first published book of poems, Lemons and Cement, is available for purchase.

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