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For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  29,708 ratings  ·  817 reviews
A revolutionary, award-winning play by a lauded playwright and poet about the experiences of women of color.

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 aud
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Paperback, 80 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Scribner (first published 1975)
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Marilyn Basel This is for the time it was written a bold affirmation that male dominance at the emotional and physical expense of females is not acceptable. The spe…moreThis is for the time it was written a bold affirmation that male dominance at the emotional and physical expense of females is not acceptable. The spectacle of Cookie slapping men around on TV's Empire is a travesty compared to the courage voiced in this book. I read it aloud to men doing life in prison inside State Prison of Southern Michigan back in the early 80s when teaching for Spring Arbor College. They were sitting lower and farther back in their chairs as I read. Not just one of them changed how they saw relationships with women after that. Until the gender wars are ended in a bloodless revolution resulting in mutual respect in relationships without dominance games, this book should be read aloud to your daughters to prepare them for the realities of life.(less)
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)

Community Reviews

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Kei
Feb 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-i-despise
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenna
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: race, poetry, classics
If there is ever a time in the future when people are able to gather together in groups again, I want to see a performance of For colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf.

It is beautiful, passionate, real, gritty, lyrical. I felt like I was reading a song. 

It's a poem performed by 7 women, each one of them representing a colour of the rainbow, and one the colour brown. They speak of their experiences as Black women, their dreams and their sorrows. Of abortion and AIDS
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Izetta Autumn
Jul 20, 2007 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
Paul
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a choreopoem and is a series of twenty poems for a cast of seven principals: they are Ladies in Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple and Brown. It expresses the struggles and problems that African-American women face; and amazingly it’s 45 years old now. The poems are linked by music. Subjects addressed include rape, domestic violence, loss, abortion and being abandoned. This is based on Shange’s own experience.
I have read this rather than seen a production of it and obviously it wo
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Charlie Ramirez
Nov 02, 2010 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
Beth
Sep 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Going Through...
Shelves: blerd-books
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...
...more
Maxwell
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I NEED to see this as a production. And I also need to reread it because WOW there are so many layers to it.
Zanna
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, poetry
'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
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Adira
To see the full review go to my blog, Introvert Interrupted.

This play was very interesting to read.

Without seeing the work in action, I would have just chalked this read up as an overblown classic, but the visual representation made this piece one of my favorite...movies.
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Bren
“my spirit is too ancient to understand the separation of soul & gender”
― Ntozake Shange, For colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf


I never forgot this. I first saw the play way back in my childhood years and it's raw power absolutely stunned me. We also had the album. It remains, in my mind, one of the best plays I ever saw.

Do consider reading this book especially if you have not seen the play.
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Craig Cunningham
Sep 23, 2010 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
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Liz Janet
May 25, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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Obsidian
Jul 17, 2015 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
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Aubrey
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 all the time
enjoy bein yrself
3.5/5

I knew I was setting myself up for a less than complete experience by reading this play script rather than seeing the play performed, but after such a lo
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The Artisan Geek
Jan 25, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: bookcase
25/1/20
Plays aren't exactly my forté which is exactly why I'll be reading this for The Black Lit Challenge next month!

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
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Marlana-Patrice
Oct 30, 2010 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
Bobbieshiann
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 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.”

My first read of 2020 is a journey that should not be taken lightly. A cheropoem that is for women, written by a woman, and be stopped by no one. Ntozake tells the story of 7 women who have endured sexism, rape, body shaming, racism, and more. These women are represented as colors of the rainbow and are connected as they put on a perf
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La Tonya  Jordan
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to La Tonya by: Myself
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.

Quote:

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
Kathy-Ann Fletcher
Feb 09, 2015 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.
Cassie
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
Lisa
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
what i didnt expect this sadday
a kick to my womangut, bleeding out colours
a choreopoem

afire

and now im all bent outta shape in my apartment with my
white walls
white snow
white skin
dead blank canvas being scored by these raw words


i roll over and take it
Never Without a Book
This series of poems (choreopoem/monologue) pulled me into a roller coaster of emotions that I wasn’t really prepared for, whew! Seven nameless Black women, only identified by colors (lady red, orange,yellow, blue, green,brown,and purple) talk about their experiences with rape, abandonment, abortion and domestic violence. ⁣

Based on my knowledge of Shange and her distinctive writing style (she mimicked how real women spoke so she could draw the readers’ in to focus and listen.) I was worried tha
...more
Allison Hurd
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well...god damn.

This is a "choreopoem"--sort of play. It felt a lot like one of the American tragedies, but distinctly Ntozake's take on the plight of being a woman of color. Evocative, rageful, sorrowful, coy and loving, I could almost see the dancers and the lighting direction.

So, so good. I would have loved to have seen it performed!

CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)
...more
Pamela
Nov 07, 2010 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
shakespeareandspice
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.
Julie
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
"This is for colored girls who have considered suicide/but are movin to the ends of their own
rainbows. . . "

AND for poets, lovers of language, and all travelers who seek to find treasure.
Sylwia (Wish Fulfillment)
I was asked to watch the film by my employer and was so moved by the poems, I had to read the book. I've been rewatching and rereading and I want to memorize the play. I'll try to separate my thoughts about the two mediums and write a review soon, if possible.

One important note: the way both the play and the movie link domestic violence and mental illness is a problem. I'm a therapist who specializes in domestic violence and a lot of that portion of both is depicting a unique situation rather t
...more
Abbie | ab_reads
I’m grateful to Seji @theartisangeek for hosting the #blacklitchallenge and pushing us out of our comfort zones, and to Anna @never_withouta_book for highlighting this play on her feed! I haven’t read a play since school and I have never read a play that is also a poem, full stop.
.
Surprisingly I got on okay with this one. It was challenging but in a good way, and it made me wish I could see a version performed live on stage one day.
.
Shange presents us with seven women, all unnamed, referred to b
...more
Janet
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I must say I read this play--or is it poetry--or is it dance--every year or two. My favorite Shange.
*********************
11/6/10 I'm getting ready to see the film today, so must re-read. it will be so strange to see these characters named--in the poems they're "lady in red," "lady in white" and so on... so that you develop a feel for them by their voices alone. Must remember that a film is its own work of art and not expect something it probably won't do--replicate that dream feel of the choreop
...more
Melody
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
I have never seen the movie or the stage version of this, so for some reason I went into this expecting some talk about mental illness among black women (based upon the title) or black women overcoming adversity. There were some lines that I liked and some poems that I thought were particularly good, but when I read the last page I had one overwhelming thought, 'That was really overrated.' These poems read more like a bunch of little stories. And all the stories are about black women's misery, p ...more
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Black Coffee: for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf - April Group Read 50 37 May 11, 2016 12:21PM  
The Broadway Show 4 31 Jul 06, 2012 03:45PM  

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539 followers
Ntozake Shange (pronounced En-toe-ZAHK-kay SHONG-gay) was 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.

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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.”
254 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”
152 likes
More quotes…