About this Issue

This double issue emerges out of the 2013 Worlds of Shange conference held at Barnard College and celebrates the important work and life of Barnard alumna Ntozake Shange (BC ’70). “The Worlds of Ntozake Shange” highlights Shange’s centrality to black feminism and the continuing impact of her work both within and outside the academy. In […]

Moving Across Disciplines and Genres: Teaching Shange

In “Moving Across Disciplines and Genres: Teaching Shange,” scholars, writers, and teachers explore what it means to teach Shange’s works as “embodied” texts. Using music, dance, voice and gesture, Shange “attacks, deforms and maims” the English language to create new spaces and forms more suited to afrodiasporic and black female experience. The video gives tips […]

Her Pen is a Machete: The Art of Ntozake Shange

In “Her Pen is a Machete: The Art of Ntozake Shange,” scholars, writers, and artists explore Ntozake Shange’s genre-defying achievements and ongoing influences. From her invention of the choreopoem to her revolutionary approaches to the body, movement, voice, music, dance, poetry, and prose, Shange’s work continues to create space for black women on the page […]

A Hole in the Sky

Download “A Hole in the Sky” (PDF) here. Reprinted with permission from World Literature Today. During his distinguished career, Nigerian born writer Niyi Osundare has worked in a variety of genres from scholarly essays to plays and poetry. His works include Songs of the Market Place (1984), Waiting Laughters (1990) Songs of the Season (1990), […]

Ntozake Shange on Stage and Screen

In this video Tina Campt introduces a panel discussion of Tyler Perry’s 2010 film version of Ntozake Shange’s 1975 Obie Award-winning play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. In the video, Ms. Shange speaks candidly with Soyica Diggs Colbert, the Assistant Professor of English at Dartmouth College and now […]

Recommended Reading and Online Resources

“I use poetry the way some people use encyclopedias: to find out more. I listen for a voice that springs from a real breath, a sweating body that speaks, or I stop reading.” —Ntozake Shange, interviewed in “Rescuing the Canon” in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint (New York: Routledge, 1995). Works […]

Introduction: Singing a “Black Girl’s Song” at Barnard and Beyond

it is possible to start a phrase with a word and end with a gesture/ that’s how I’ve lived my life/ that’s how I continue to study /produce black art —Ntozake Shange, “why I had to dance”[1] In the academic year 2012-2013, renowned poet, performance artist, playwright, and novelist Ntozake Shange, Barnard class of 1970, […]

Black Feminist Collectivity in Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf

Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf opens with a poem entitled “dark phrases.” The first stanza reads: dark phrases of womanhood of never havin been a girl half-notes scattered without rhythm/ no tune distraught laughter fallin over a black girl’s shoulder it’s funny/ it’s hysterical the […]

Learning How to Listen: Ntozake Shange’s Work as Aesthetic Primer

What follows is a purely subjective analysis. The primer of my title refers to several meanings of the word: A prayer book or devotional manual for the use of lay people. A book that covers the basic elements of a subject. For over three decades, Ntozake Shange’s writing has been a source of pleasure and […]

Indigo Generations: Shange in Praxis and Being the Folk

i. write the names dedication and preparation Read this article when you have a moment to participate in your own legacy. Join me as I acknowledge what made this possible. Or come back later. Find a pen. Find a blank enough space to write. Ready? Do this for me. Write the names. Write the names […]