Friday, November 5, 2010

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange

In the middle of reading one book, crafting the book review of another, I stopped to ponder womanhood.

The stopping is because Tyler Perry has produced For Colored Girls which premiers tonight.  I am going with several of my girlfriends, we decided yesterday on the time.  Last Saturday, at my book club, we selected the book for our December discussion.  I went to Pudd N'Head Books to get my copy.

I like reading a book before I see the movie, if it is possible.  This one was more breathed than read.

Back in 1985 in my College English class at Lincoln University, I read Sassafras, Cypress, and Indigo.  I had an assignment to then write a piece of poetry after that.  It was then that someone other than my family told me I had the gift to write.  It was also then that for close to two decades, I stopped writing stories and wrote prose and poetry, even performed a few pieces, gave pieces as gifts, just wrote what was inside me.

I started For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf yesterday afternoon.

Today, in the finally quiet of my house, soaking in a much-needed-tub, I finished it, I felt it.

Ntozake Shange wrote a choreopoem in 1975.  One has to go back to that decade of pulsating energy, promise, and power to understand the delicate, feminine, and wanting behind the poems.

She wrote about the things that happen to women but more as a dance because we women often dance through lift, tiptoeing, two-stepping, and slow-jamming our way through the myriad of responsibilities that pull us, pulsate us, pummel us.

The movement of the poem was sweeping through adolescent loss of virginity, the indignity of acquaintance rape, the comfort of sisterhood, the jealousy of addicted and abusive men, the fragility of life, and the promise of yet another tomorrow, a universal understanding of the essence of what happens in the womb, the comfort of the breast, and the power of the vagina.

This poem was in a sense the precursor to any feminist/womanist poetry and performances including The Vagina Monologues (primarily from a white woman's perspective) and the Pocketbook Monologues (primarily from a black woman's perspective).  Shange allowed me to feel emotions pent up inside and washed me with the soothing of her cadence, the way the ladies in red, blue, purple, yellow, orange, brown swayed and moved, intermoved, and outermoved through the way our lives brush past, touch, and hold each other.

Tonight, I will watch the movie with my belly full of her words, my mind's eye filled with the images of colorful cloth doing a dance in St.Louis, New Orleans, California, and New York.  Filling my lungs with the sweet perfume of collective women embracing our essence without the struggles, the tugs, and the encasements.

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