Poetry Analysis: Wilmington Delaware by Nikki Giovoni

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Ethan Carpenter Poetry Analysis Dr. Lockridge 2/14/13 Wilmington Delaware by Nikki Giovanni The poem “Wilmington Delaware” written by Nikki Giovanni in 1967 is about the oppression and hard experiences that many impoverished African Americans experienced in the city during that time. The speaker emphasizes the separation of classes by referring to the chemical company DuPont, which is a renowned and wealthy company in Delaware, as the antagonist. This company focuses its industry towards the production of chemical goods, and is responsible for giving off large amounts of pollution to the environment. The poem compares Wilmington to “a funni Negro” who is often mistreated even though he works as hard as a he can to get by. This poem describes the feeling of stress, intimidation, and unequal treatment of blacks in Wilmington. The speaker introduces Wilmington as “a cute little gingerbread man”, which is a metaphor referring to the small size of the city; and then goes on to say how it is polluted with “smog, gas fumes, and pot.” However, the tone changes in the lines that follow where it seems as if the speaker is yelling to highlight the reason as to why Wilmington relieves his stress by “stuffing his pipe” with marijuana. In the next stanza the speaker talks about how Wilmington could be noticed as a great colored man “…If he’d just stop wetting himself each and/ everytime he/ meets a Due-Pontee/ LORD KNOWS HE TRIES” (5-9). The term “Due-Pontee” implies that this person, the antagonist, is part of the powerful DuPont company and is one that intimidates the protagonist to the point of wetting himself. DuPont must have an especially strong economic presence in Wilmington, to the point at which it might invoke anxiety and intimidation towards the people in the city. Later in the poem, the speaker discusses how the protagonist, Wilmington, is so

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