"For colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf," by Ntozake Shange, debuted on Broadway in 1976. In her introduction to the book version, the author describes the work as "a choreopoem" made up of individual poems that form "a single statement." This work of literature is a powerful exploration of the lives of Black women.
"For colored girls..." does not have a conventional "plot" or characters. The parts of the choreopoem are performed by characters described as "lady in brown," "lady in white," etc. Together, these women talk about spirituality, violence, female sexuality, music, and the discovery of one's heritage. One particularly moving part of the choreopoem is a tribute to Haitian leader Toussaint L'Ouverture.
"For colored girls..." is a stunning hybrid of poetry, drama, and feminist theology. It is both tragic and sensuous, with the healing power of ritual. The final scenes contain some of the most powerful words ever written for the theater. If you are interested in African-American literature, women's studies, or 20th century drama, I recommend you read this work.
on September 23, 1999
Shange outdid herself in this peice she covered every emotion colored women feel. From fear, to joy, from hatred to love, from confusion to understanding she has captured it she is in the same category with the Alice Walkers, Gloria Naylors and Toni Morrisons of the literary world. This book was required reading but it soon turned into pleasure and inspirational reading. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and I am very saddened by the fact that I had to get to college before I every got the chance to. This book should be required reading for every young women in high school in the United States. The writing is simple yet breathtaking and it speaks to the very soul of the reader. I loved it and I plan to read it again. This choreopoem ranks right up there with "The Bluest Eye" as one of the most prolific writings of the twentieth century. Both of these works are the female version of Ellison's "Invisible Man" and we all know that regardless to what anyone says that is the most amazing book that has ever been written. Great job Ntozake Shange, you go girl!!!!!
on July 20, 2001
Every time I read this masterpiece, it sparks a new emotion within me, and/or I see one of the pieces in a manner different from the previous times I've read it. It makes you laugh, cry, gasp, sing, reminisce, makes you mad...it'll make you feel so many different ways because as hard and rough as the book's language is, it's REAL. I guarantee that ANY woman (possibly men also) who reads this book will be able to relate to AT LEAST one of the characters here (if not, ALL of them). I also love the arrangement of the book. The detail of the stories and the dialogue, the colors, the dancing, the pain...I love it. This masterpiece has been around for over 25 years, and it's just as powerful as its very first publishing day.
on July 23, 2010
There are many messages in these poems and they are choreographed as a stage play as you read, you're reading them in script-prose.
****The main point of this whole set of choreo-poems is being happy as who you are, ultimately the redemption you seek is loving yourself. That is what makes these verses so powerful!
I have to admit, I had this book when I was younger and didn't appreciate it. Now, I am nearly 30 and it's with new insight and the wisdom of woman that I can feel and empathize with the pain, fear, humiliation, anger, frustration, longing, hope and courage of the 7 different rainbow colors (not skin colors)of ladies, from domestic violence, abortion, rape and other tales, it is something all women can relate to.
The message is told though in vernacular that often shows when you are sick and tired, you only want to vent, and poetically, not grammatically-correct is how we all vent. The vignettes in this play or choreopoems inspire to reach the hearts of not just all women, (no matter their color) but particularly African-American women. It definitely contains poems that are food for thought.
It is designed to provide hope. It seems dark what these women go through, their struggle, their pain, their fear, their humiliation, hurt, and ultimately their triumph, is something that can seem depressing to the immature reader (or the reader who only likes reading the happy ending). But this is raw truth, this is real, this is what happens in life and this is the story of not all women's lives, or even some women's lives, or even a majority of a particular culture of women's lives BUT EACH "COLOR" REPRESENTS A IMPERFECT LIFE. AND all of us, our life, perfect though it may not be, matters to us, no matter how hard or how easy others, looking from the outside, feel we have it. These women's moving tales grip your heart and will not let you go because they are actually, more than just stories to keep us appreciative of what we have, and they do much more than to show us to be cautious, to be inspired, to be honest, to be forgiving, because EACH STORY IS A IMPERFECT LIFE.
No matter what you've experienced, there is someone in this world who can relate, who can feel your pain, your struggle, who gets the "groove" you are trying to follow and that you are drummer to your own "beat"...and we do not have to experience bad things to appreciate the good but experiencing bad things also, does not mean we are NOT GOOD or that we do not deserve good. And reading about someone else's life, really does put what we have, what we do, what we are...in perspective. The life we live, yes, it's imperfect but it's ours to shape as best we can, despite our imperfections. These women's' stories were given to us so we can appreciate life and all it has to offer and not take for granted the loving relationships we may enjoy and to always remember that we can be naive but never ignorant of what someone might be capable of. There are so many other wonderful lessons but this review has gone on long enough. It seems every time I re-read this I add some to my review.
I liked some of the poems more than others. Sorry is still my favorite with the quote:
you should admit
you're mean/ low-down/ triflin/ & no count straight out
steada bein sorry alla the time
enjoy bein yrself"
This is a very powerful quote. And one of many more lines that inspire and provoke one to contemplate and meditate.
on November 7, 2010
I was eighteen when I first heard of and read "For Colored Girls..." and thought it was provacative and way ahead of its time as it touched upon the evils of domestic violence, date rape and sexually transmitted desease. Now thirty-five years later, I still shed the same tears for the colored women, including myself who have experienced some of these life changing events. Their stories are our stories, whether untold or provoked and will unabashedly be revealed again in diaries, to trusted friends, or on the couches and chairs of countless therapists. My prayers go out to colored girls all over the world.
on November 26, 2001
When I was a little girl my mother was in a local acting group that traveled and put on this play. When I was about 13 years old I saw it in it entiretly for the first time. It was heartwrenching, funny, inspiring and contraversial. I loved every bit of it. Everyone especially women and men who love women should read it at least once, it provides an interesting perspective that you may be unfamiliar with. Being a black woman ain't always easy but it sure is beautiful, if you can find God in yourself.