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Ntozake Shange

In the horribleness of this week, Ntozake Shange’s passing will likely not be mourned in the way it should. This is a huge loss and I wanted to make sure to remember her here.

I read for colored girls ... when I was an undergrad majoring in theatre - it was an extremely powerful and important experience for me and formative in my thoughts about the power of theatre and the importance of women’s voices and experiences. I later took a poetry writing class (taught by the brilliant Dorianne Laux) in which we were to memorize and recite a poem. I chose an Ntozake Shange poem and still recite parts of it to myself today. Her death is a huge loss.



Ntozake Shange

letters from friends used to be an art form

literary exquisite observations of the soul

aesthetics and compulsions to give

order to whatever this life is

pages for a friend kept many a prairie

woman / lingering by her fire in a sod house

from committing suicide / some prairie

women killed themselves anyway

the letters from their friends

crushed in their fists / the same

fists that beat walls trying to

keep up enough anger not to die

not to burn the kettle swinging

over the fire / the ladle too hot to handle

loneliness stalking the

farmyard a warring Comanche

pages for a friend fluttering off

in the wind / lost breaths wishes

dying for someone to loom over the horizon

anyone / come talk / please come talk to me / now

i’ve no one to write

i’m so lonely i’m not sure i remember

how it is you read

you see i’ve memorized all the letters

my woman friends sent me


i could recite some to you

let me make some coffee &

we could sit & talk

please, mister, let’s just talk

before i forget how & become silence.

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