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

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  22,542 Ratings  ·  515 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 is to be of color and fe ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Scribner (first published 1975)
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Kalan Harris
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Tania S Literary Essay:For Colored Girls Tania Smith

“ For colored Girls” and the author is NTozake Shange. NTozake is a renowned playwright her work include…more
Literary Essay:For Colored Girls Tania Smith

“ For colored Girls” and the author is NTozake Shange. NTozake is a renowned playwright her work include some sing, some cry, which she wrote with four other writers. She is a graduate of Barnard and recipient of a master’s in American Studies from the University of Southern California, she lives in Brooklyn. “For Colored Girls” setting is in Brooklyn with multiple women who have different difficulties in their life. The black African American women have overcame challenges that happens to be too hard for others to overcome. NTozake Shange uses symbolism, personification, and similes to show how much colored girls go through and how they get through it all everyday without complaining of having a fit.

NTozake Shange uses symbolism to show how the music to her is describing a way of life and how people's lives are. It describes the sounds that is being portrayed from her point of view and how the music expresses thoughts and emotions.The way of life is being described as hard and not easy as a For Colored Girl in the south. The symbolism that is given is, “ But sing her rhythms/carin/struggle/hard times sing her song of life. She been dead so long,closed in silence so long,she doesn't know the sound of her own voice, her infinite beauty” (17)

In “For Colored Girls” NTozake Shange uses personification to describe how people are looking at her since she got an abortion. Her outlook on the world is different now and so is her circle, people stop being friends with her because of a decision she decided to make : Her world has changed due to the fact that she is bring life to the world, she too is ashamed of the decision that was made and now she has to deal with it. The sentence in the book says, “eyes crawling up one me eyes rollin in my thighs metal horses gnawin my womb dead mice fall from my mouth” (36)

NTozake Shange creates a simile comparing good and bad love The women and her sister realized how much good love stood between them and that this would be the first time she had this moment. Every since she found out about a colored girl she tried to not be that and left bitter in somebody else’s cup. She described it like this, “come to somebody to love me without deep & nasty repetition scald from lye or being left screaming in a street full of lunatica/ whisperin slut bitch bitch niggah/ get outta my face with alla that.”(56).

NTozake Shange uses symbolism, personification, and similes to show how much colored girls go through and how they get through it all everyday without complaining of having a fit. I used text evidence to show how the girls struggle and the reaction they get from people when they try to do better with themselves. If you was one of these girls how would you feel if somebody summarized your whole life in a book? Would you feel that the author is not being appropriate or would of you thank her for showing people what life is all about in a African American young lady?’ If said you would thank her explain why.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 31, 2011 Kei rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-i-despise
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 09, 2014 Seth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Izetta Autumn
Jul 20, 2007 Izetta Autumn rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 02, 2010 Charlie Ramirez rated it really liked it
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
Apr 11, 2015 Maxwell rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-it, drama, 2015
I NEED to see this as a production. And I also need to reread it because WOW there are so many layers to it.
Liz BooksandStuff
May 03, 2016 Liz BooksandStuff rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
Read this before seeing the film, it is worth it. This play is one of the strongest stories about abuse and discrimination, from almost all aspects that I have had the great pleasure of reading.

I have seen many people criticize how the characters were represented, some even claiming that the characters could have taken more “responsibility” for what happened to them, and I am very sure that these people missed one of the messages of the story, that people are flawed, and that sometimes it is har
Nov 27, 2007 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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...
Jul 20, 2015 Obsidian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have to say that I loved this play. It was a bit weird to read the stage directions along with the poetry that was being said by these characters, but it was quite easy to read and follow.

For colored girls is considered a choreopoem (i.e. there are monologues that also include dance and music) with seven women in different colors speaking to the audience.

The seven women are the lady in red, lady in orange, lady in yellow, lady in green, lady in blue, lady in brown, and lady in purple.

Some of t
Craig Cunningham
Sep 23, 2010 Craig Cunningham rated it it was amazing

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
Oct 30, 2010 Marlana-Patrice rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 12, 2015 Yamini rated it liked it
Themes - check
Characters - check
Writing - pretentious as hell

Certain words that Shange chooses to spell differently are spoken the same way regardless. I don’t see how one could say could (which she chose to spell as “cld”) any differently than anyone else, whether you are black, white, or green.
Kathy-Ann Fletcher
Feb 09, 2015 Kathy-Ann Fletcher rated it it was amazing
I believe every word of this book. It is honest and real and gives a voice to a marginalised but strong set of women. It is definitely one of my favourite books ever. Absolutely a gem of literature.
Jan 25, 2014 Zanna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, feminism, drama, racism
'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
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
It surprises me that so many people disliked this book. I can't say that every poem instantly clicked with me, but I felt like I had lived—or new someone who had lived—many of these lives. I loved the grittiness, the way the language flowed, and walked away from this book feeling like I had been taught an important lesson, as if these 'colored' girls were offering all of their wisdom to me. I can understand being confused by the way words are spelled differently but if you read it for what it is ...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
Nov 26, 2010 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
"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
Feb 26, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
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
La Tonya  Jordan
May 28, 2016 La Tonya Jordan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: favorites
Words that do not truly come to life until you see the theatrical stage version. Life is painfully and joyfully at the same time.


little sally walker, sittin in a saucer
rise, sally, rise, wipe your weepin eyes
an put your hands on your hips
an let your backbone slip
o, shake it to the east
o, shake it to the west
shake it to the one
that you like the best

lady in purple
you're it
Jun 24, 2014 kenneth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 30, 2014 Alisha rated it it was amazing
Very very beautifully written. Tragically realistic. Very amazing to read. It's an extremely artistic portrayal of the lives of black women, from and living all different strokes of life, searching the world for something to make them and their existence whole. Blindly, it is usually manifested in some form of a man.

The imagery and use of language is astonishing. It's poetry, which I personally don't read very much, but For Colored Girls is my favorite poem(s) I've ever read.

As with all screenp
Jun 05, 2007 nicebutnubbly rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
Feb 18, 2016 Kema rated it it was amazing
I had no intention of reading this book. I have not seen the Tyler Perry movie. I have only heard about the horrific ending scene. Hence, a reason I did not want to read the book. I almost missed out. Just recently I was able to catch a performance of "For Colored Girls." I laughed, I cried and I realized I needed this book. It is really difficult to invoke the roller coaster of emotions I felt after seeing the production but I enjoyed it tremendously. I ordered the book and highlighted every pa ...more
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
Feb 27, 2016 Supriya rated it really liked it
Shelves: have-it
My actual rating 4.5

"she's been dead so long
closed in silence so long
she doesn't know the sound
of her own voice
her infinite beauty"

"i found god in myself
& i loved her/ i loved her fiercely"
Rena Jane
Mar 14, 2011 Rena Jane rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 02, 2010 Lauren rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 12, 2013 Tisha London rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 09, 2015 Jai rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-is-poetry
Some parts were hard to follow, but I still got what was going on at the end of each poem. Every story or poem shows how life can build you up and break you down but the conclusion tells us that in the end you must learn to find and love yourself.
Powerful, and very heavy.
May 28, 2008 zingha. rated it it was amazing
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
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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...

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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.”
“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
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”
More quotes…