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Ntozake Shange of ‘For Colored Girls’

posted by Nell Minow

Acclaimed poet/playwright Ntozake Shange is best known for her 1975 “choreopoem” play, “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf,” written when she was just 23. This week, it comes to screen directed by Tyler Perry, starring a stunning collection of extraordinary women of beauty, elegance, and power.

Shange was born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey on October 18, 1948, the daughter of an Air Force surgeon and an educator and psychiatric social worker. In 1971 she changed her name to Ntozake Shange which means “she who comes with her own things” and “she who walks like a lion” in Xhosa, the Zulu language. Ms. Shange has struggled with illness for many years but she and her sister have published a new book, Some Sing, Some Cry: A Novel, a sweeping saga of 200 years of history through the voices of seven generations of women called by Publisher’s Weekly “a complex poetic treatise on race, culture, love, and family, the use of regional vernacular, dialect, and pure song, resulting in a provocative fictional history.”

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