Poem of the Month

Enuf | Ntozake Shange

enuf ntozake shange world of books

at 4:30 AM
she rose
movin the arms & legs that trapped her
she sighed affirmin the sculptured man
& made herself a bath
of dark musk oil egyptian crystals
& florida water to remove his smell
to wash away the glitter
to watch the butterflies melt into
suds & the rhinestones fall beneath
her buttocks like smooth pebbles
in a missouri creek
layin in water
she became herself
brown braided woman
with big legs & full hips
seriously intendin to finish her
night’s work
she quickly walked to her guest
straddled on her pillows & began
you’ll have to go now /
a lot of work to do / & i
with a man around / here
are yr pants /
there’s coffee on the
stove / it’s been
very nice / but i cant see
you again /
you got what you came
for / didnt you’
& she smiled
he wd either mumble curses bout crazy bitches
or sit dumbfounded
while she repeated
æi cdnt possibly wake up / with
a strange man in my bed / why
dont you go home’
she cda been slapped upside the head
or verbally challenged
but she never waz
& the ones who fell prey to the
dazzle of hips painted with
orange blossoms & magnolia scented wrists
had wanted no more
than to lay between her sparklin thighs
& had planned on leaving before dawn
& she had been so divine
devastatingly bizarre the way
her mouth fit round
& now she stood a
reglar colored girl
fulla the same malice
livid indifference as a sistah
worn from supportin a wd be hornplayer
or waiting by the window
& they knew
& left in a hurry
she wd gather her tinsel &
jewels from the tub
& laugh gayly or vengeful
she stored her silk roses by her bed
& when she finished writin
the account of her exploit in a diary
embroidered with lilies & moonstones
she placed the rose behind her ear
& cried herself to sleep.

Ntozake Shange, published in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf, 1974
poem of the month world of books blog

‘& i am more/ than i am not’

In celebration of Black History Month and National Poetry Day, our Poem of the Month is by the late Ntozake Shange. A woman who had many strings to her bow, from poetry and play production to children’s books, she fostered a passion for poetry in new generations in particular young African-American women. Shange is best known for turning her first poetry collection into a play often described as a ‘choreopoem’. This is because it’s a multi-disciplinary production incorporating drama, dance, music, and of course her unforgettable poetry.

The poem Enuf features in the book and subsequent play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf. It is one of a collection of monologue-style poems which portrays a real encounter with someone. These encounters represent the intertwining actions of cruelty and desire. Shange explores difficult subjects including sexual abuse, abortion, love, and friendship. All emotionally charged, her writing has a self-awareness that is unashamedly from the voice of colored girls, for colored girls. Though each voice is distinct and every struggle unique, they come together with a shared understanding of passion and pain.

Find your own strength and understanding through Ntozake Shange’s books, or you could buy a copy of Tyler Perry’s 2011 film production of For Colored Girls from us. To expand your poetry collection, even more, check out our second-hand poetry books.

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What does Ntozake Shange’s poetry mean to you? Let us know your opinions on our October Poem of the Month in the comments below.

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