Ntozake Shange: Get to Know the Celebrated Poet

Poet, playwright and feminist Ntozake Shange turns 70 on October 18. And Black Poetry Day is October 17, so it's an especially good time to celebrate Shange's impassioned writings centered on the black female experience.

Born Paulette L. Williams in Trenton, N.J., Shange changed her name in 1971 to Ntozake, meaning "she who has her own things" in Xhosa, and Shange, meaning "she who walks with lions" in Zulu, to show her pride in her African heritage.

Shange's work explores the black experience, particularly from a feminist perspective, and many of her works include unique blends of poetry, music and dance. She is best known for her Obie Award-winning 1975 choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide, When the Rainbow Is Enuf. Following a run on Broadway, this play was featured on American Playhouse and was adapted into a screenplay in 2010 by Tyler Perry for the film For Colored Girls.

Shange's body of work includes a host of other plays, novels and essays such as Some Sing, Some Cry, Betsey Brown, Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo and Liliane.

Interested in getting to know more poets? Check out CPL's Popular Poetry booklist.

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