I'm Ugly, But I'm Here


I remember when I first heard the greeting “I am ugly but I am here.” It struck a nerve in me. At first off putting, it’s actually a quite beautiful sentiment. At least to me. And then I read Danticat’s essay titled “We are Ugly, But We are Here” and I was hooked.


I can’t really explain why I am so endeared to the greeting, but I am. Maybe Lucille Clifton’s “Won’t You Celebrate with Me” (my FAVORITE poem!) below can help you understand why I am so attracted to this phrase and to Celie’s proclamation to Mister (in The Color Purple) that she may be ugly but she’s here.


Sometimes, there are times when I find myself discouraged and angry about the many mis-steps I’ve made along my way. I allow myself to occasionally explore my tears and the pain, but I consciously end my day knowing that despite my mistakes…despite my errors…despite all my ugly, I am still here. And being here means that I still have a chance, to make things better.






"won’t you celebrate with me"


won’t you celebrate with me


what i have shaped into

a kind of life? i had no model.

born in babylon

both nonwhite and woman

what did i see to be except myself?

i made it up

here on this bridge between

starshine and clay,

my one hand holding tight

my other hand; come celebrate

with me that everyday

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.



Always true,

Dr. Tip

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