for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
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for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  16,895 ratings  ·  392 reviews
From its inception in California in 1974 to its highly acclaimed critical success at Joseph Papp's Public Theater and on Broadway, the Obie Award-winning for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf has excited, inspired, and transformed audiences all over the country. Passionate and fearless, Shange's words reveal what it means to be of color and...more
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Turtleback Books (first published 1975)
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Kei
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Seth
Shange's work here is highly provocative. English dorks will complain about the "typos" and misspellings. Apparently, these readers have never heard of poetic license, nor are they aware that the piece is meant to be PERFORMED, not merely read. Traditionalists might complain that this work is unfair to men. Apparently, they did not even bother to read the first three words of the title.

For the open-minded exists a sublime piece of poetic verse, musical and cacophonous, filled with unbridled emot...more
Izetta Autumn
The ish. A pivotal work in theatre. I once heard Ntozake Shange explain that one of her goals as a writer was to break down the English language, to undo, redo, replay, and rework the English language, in such a way that its power for white supremacist goals and idea transfer would be rendered useless. Now that's all types of deep - this idea that language can teach us destruction and prejudice and by deconstructing that language those who have been oppressed can reclaim and enter into the very...more
Charlie Ramirez
For Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf has been the most profound, interesting, mind- blowing books I have come across this year. This was my first time being introduced to a chore poem, which is simply a collection of poems that have been strategically put together into one novel. One thing I learned from Shange, the author, is the attention to the title of the book. Upon reading the first three words of the title, "For colored girls..." you assume that the word...more
Marlana-Patrice
I have seen the play version twice including the touring company with some of the original cast members like the amazing Trazana Beverley. Yesterday, reading the actual choreopoem in its entirety for the first time gave me more insight and understanding of the poets' intentions. There are moments of joy as well as sheer despair in this piece. In other words, Shange covers a wide range of colored girl emotions. Her work is also ground-breaking because of its experimentation with form and content....more
Beth
Nov 27, 2007 Beth rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone Going Through...
This is one of those books I refer too a lot. Like written prayers sometimes say things in a way that resonates so well with me, so too does this book of poetry.

Ever since I realized there waz someone callt/
a colored girl an evil woman a bitch or a nag/
i been tryin not to be that & leave bitterness/
in somebody else's cup...
Craig Cunningham


I read this book a million years ago.Well, to bespecific back in 1975, around the time of its original publication. However, I have read it several more times since then, and I have seen the Play performed more than five times. The play presents an overwhelming expereience that embraces the audience member in a cultural experience of the African American woman and other women in the African Diaspora. The reading of the text and the viewing of the original play present a sometimes bleek, daunting...more
Eric
This book is so much more powerful than the movie that is made from it. This book showcases beautifully the experience of African-American females. While I never can fully understand their experience as a gay white male I feel that I was drawn into their world by Shange's words. I was able to feel their joy, pain, and suffering. This book moved me to emotions that I didn't believe a book would be able to do and now I find myself sometimes saying one of the poems to myself in my head frequently a...more
Zanna
'coloured' (minoritised, othered in their skin, colonised OR vibrant, various, multifaceted) 'girls' (infantilised, sexually exploited and pathologised, excluded from woman/lady OR youthful, spirited, free, pure-hearted) , five Black women… speaking in the safe space of loving affirmation between them, poetising rawness of pain and beauty, passion and exhaustion...

No respectability politics. Don't start telling these women what they should have done. These are words of possibility and impossibil...more
Mike Jensen
Three stars for a modern classic? I struggle with this book. TV and film sometimes included scenes with performance pieces like this to show how talentless and clueless a character is. I have not seen this work performed, but from reading alone, the first couple of pieces read like this to me. It seems to improve after this, or do I just begin to “get it”?, still many of the poems, especially the emotional poems, do not resonate with me. I have trouble identifying with the anger or the reasons f...more
kennethemenace
This book is spiritually bland and utterly devoid of imagination. The writing was puerile and in no way measures up to the high quality of literature you would expect from a book held in such high and critical esteem. (It won an Obie). Some may choose to ignore the faults in the text because it is "revolutionary" and feminist. But for those people I have a question. If we measure progressive works and feminist works by cheaper standards,how does that show what we truly think about women? Probabl...more
Pamela
"for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf" by Ntozake Shange is a powerful choreopoem that explores many different arenas: rape, sexually-transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancy, abortion, murder, etc... It is written in a way that conveys to the reader the physical and emotional stance of the women in the play. While delving into many social topics that seem to plague all women(not just colored girls) today, Shange creates an atmosphere in which these women are m...more
Jessica
"let her be born
let her be born
& handled warmly."
-dark phrases

-no assistance-
without any assistance or guidance from you
i have loved you assiduously for 8 months 2 wks & a day
i have been stood up four times
i've left 7 packages on yr doorstep
forty poems 2 plants & 3 handmade notecards i left
town so i cd send to you have been no help to me
on my job
you call at 3:00 in the mornin on weekdays
so i cd drive 27 1/2 miles cross the bay before i go to work
charmin charmin
but you are of no assis...more
nicebutnubbly
somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff
not my poems or a dance i gave up in the street
but somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff
like a kleptomaniac workin hard & forgettin while stealin
this is mine/this aint yr stuff/
now why don't you put me back & let me hang out in my own self
somebody almost walked off wit alla my stuff
& didn't care enuf to send a note home sayin
i was late for my solo conversation
or two sizes to small for my own tacky skirts
what can anybody do wit someth...more
Shanae
My goodness, this book really spoke to me. I'm so thankful that I read it. I would absolutely love to see this performed live. I picked up this book because I heard that Tyler Perry would be directing the film version, while I'm not Perry fan I thought I'd better at least read this book and see what the hype is all about. I can assure you that every single woman in the world could benefit from reading these poems...I haven't experienced any of what was discussed in the poems, but I know that if...more
Rena Jane
I've been meaning to read some of Ntozake Shange's work for sometime, and when I saw this offered in my Book-Of-The-Month catalog, ordered and read it.

The book is written in the style of a stage play, and has been performed several times, according to the book, including being filmed for HBO.

Shange addresses many of the cruel and challenging issues that many young women, not just black women, but Asian, white, poor, and under-educated women confront, on a daily basis.

One of the themes that came...more
Lauren
I really hope I have the chance to see this performed one day. Shange's writing is so lyrical and emotionally honest on its own that I can only imagine the impact of the full dance, the stage, the color, etc. The writing style was compelling enough for me to give the play 5 stars, though. The actual reworking of the English language so as to communicate in words created for and by women of color -- as opposed to speaking in the language born out of a racist and sexist culture -- very much enhanc...more
Tisha London
The best poetry I have ever read. This poem hits every issue we as black women are faced with. I thought I suffered alone with most of these issues until I read these poems. Some poems I actually was reading my life story. This book is therapy, She takes the hurt, pain, joy right from your tongue and let's you read it, in the form of poetry. This poem makes me want to unite with all women and deal with our issues together. It's comforting to know I wasn't alone. I've also watched both movies, th...more
zingha.
May 28, 2008 zingha. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All Colored Girls...
...She's half-notes scattered
without rhythm/ no tune
sing her sighs
sing the song of her possiblilties
sing a righteous gospel
let her be born
let her be born
& handled warmly.

I read this every year at or around springtime
since I was introduced to it while broseing in my local bookstore over ten years ago. It is both loud and quiet in it's prose. Everytime I read it I idenify with a diffrent lady than the year before. It speaks to the works' timelessness.

hard and soft...always tender. Beau...more
Adrienna
Wow, I know poetry is a form of expression but so many typos like "cdnt" should be "couldn't". I was not expecting to see this. However many writers get away with Ebonics, poor English, and this is the worst form of it that I've ever seen.

I went to the movies first that I enjoyed and now reading the book on it and astonished to see these grammatical errors although it was written in 1975.

As it was said in the movie, page 54, "I loved you on purpose. I was open on purpose. i still crave vulnerabi...more
Chris
This book is really powerful in an understated kind of way. Shange's language is colloquial but still intensely gripping. It's very easy to see how liberating this book was 30 years ago. In many ways, its just as liberating today. I had a hard time reading the entire thing silently. Since it's more of a spoken poem than a true book, it's meant to be spoke aloud. I found myself doing that unconsciously throughout the reading, adding feeling and emphasis to the words as I scanned them down the pag...more
Jessica
Nov 01, 2011 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
“for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf”
By Ntozake Shange

This book is technically a choreopoem. Shange was the first one to use the term “choreopoem” when this was published in 1975. It’s basically used to define combined poetry. This is also a big hit on and off Broadway. These poems discuss the topics of love, rape, abortion, and domestic violence. The characters in the poems, all African-American, and all women, are not known by name, but by color. The charact...more
Sincerae
If you can see For Colored Girls as a play, I highly recommend it. I did when I was in graduate school when the black student union at my university presented it. This play still moves me, the language, the raw reality of the characters, their pain, and the poetry. Black women are the throw away people in this play and still so today in this society over 30 years after Ntozake Shange put together her play of poetry and dance. Still we keep trying to fly somehow even though suicide is sometimes c...more
Lori
I really wish I liked reading the play version as opposed to watching the movie version. If I hadn't watched the movie I would not have liked reading this book. Not because I'm white. I have never got along w/ reading poetry and plays. The only plays I've ever been able to read are Shakespeare and that's only because the books I've read them in has the explanations off to the side. I do truly wish I had the talent to like all of this. I actually envy those who do. I will say this-because I saw t...more
Emily Katherine
I may be mostly white, but I am also entirely a woman.

"i loved you on purpose
i was open on purpose
i still crave vulnerability & close talk
& i'm not even sorry bout you bein sorry
you can carry all the guilt & grime ya wanna
just dont give it to me
i cant use another sorry
next time
you should admit
you're mean/ low-down/ triflin/ & no count straight out
steada bein sorry alla the time
enjoy bein yrself"

I don't believe I have ever met a single woman who could hear or read those words an...more
Jimmie
This book wasn't exactly on my radar until I read Melissa V. Harris-Perry's book "Sister Citizen," in which she notes that, in his recent film version of for colored girls, Tyler Perry completely subverts Shange's original intent, giving an altogether less female-empowering message to it.

This isn't really the type of poetry I enjoy, and, since it's a "choreopoem," meant to be performed with dance, I don't think I really got the full force of Shange's work by just reading it on my couch. That bei...more
Christina
I don't know if it's because this isn't my preferred style of poetry or what but I didn't like this book. The formatting was a little confusing. It was like my first experience reading Shakespeare: I read this dialect, knowing it's meant to be performed, but I had difficulty envisioning it. Was it the dialect? No. I understood it. Something about the book was a little scattered and all over the place, but there were parts that told an obvious story and parts that stuck out as meaningful to me.

H...more
Traci David
I'm not sure Shange necessarily thought of black girls specifically. I thought the colored girls spoke of all women and the colors they wear at any given moment. If you've seen the play and I encourage all to do so you will understand the colored reference.

I absolutely love the poetry. Without any assistance...Somebody almost walked away wid my stuff...My love is too...I loved you on purpose...Rape by invitation...and one thing I don't need is anymore apologies.

Tyler Perry's adaptation is pret...more
Tiffany
This is a choreopoem that I needed to read multiple times in order for some, just some, of the messages to sink in. The language was hard for me to navigate through, mostly from being trained to read one way and speak another - this challenges the reader to read what the narrators speak. Not an easy task.

I read it after watching the movie just because I'm the one who get annoyed when things in the book don't show up in the movie. I loved the movie and loved the choreopoem. I think it would be b...more
Hattie
This book was fantastic. I started it as a sort of fulfillment of my childhood. My mother has a huge poster of the cover of this hanging in the hallway outside my room and I never really understood what it meant but had been determined to read the book once mom would allow me. I felt attached to all of the stories. Maybe not on the personal level of experience but on the philosophical level of understanding that black women have identified with this choreopoem for years. I laughed. I cried. I fe...more
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Ntozake Shange (pronounced En-toe-ZAHK-kay SHONG-gay) is an African-American playwright, performance artist, and writer who is best known for her Obie Award winning play for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf.

Among her honors and awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, and a Pushcart Prize.
More about Ntozake Shange...
Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo Ellington Was Not a Street Some Sing, Some Cry Coretta Scott Betsey Brown

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“one thing I don’t need
is any more apologies
i got sorry greetin me at my front door
you can keep yrs
i don’t know what to do wit em
they don’t open doors
or bring the sun back
they don’t make me happy
or get a mornin paper
didn’t nobody stop usin my tears to wash cars
cuz a sorry.”
155 likes
“without any assistance or guidance from you
i have loved you assiduously for 8 months 2 wks & a day
i have been stood up four times
i've left 7 packages on yr doorstep
forty poems 2 plants & 3 handmade notecards i left
town so i cd send to you have been no help to me
on my job
you call at 3:00 in the mornin on weekdays
so i cd drive 27 1/2 miles cross the bay before i go to work
charmin charmin
but you are of no assistance
i want you to know
this waz an experiment
to see how selifsh i cd be
if i wd really carry on to snare a possible lover
if i waz capable of debasin my self for the love of another
if i cd stand not being wanted
when i wanted to be wanted
& i cannot
so
with no further assistance & no guidance from you
i am endin this affair

this note is attached to a plant
i've been waterin since the day i met you
you may water it
yr damn self”
86 likes
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