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.