Greetings, Emery Book Club Members!
In the month of May, we are challenging our book club members to attend EVERY meeting and bring their enthusiasm into the reading of poems we will perform from our famous new book, “For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf”.
In this fascinating book of poetry, our author, Ntozake Shange, began with a series of seven poems exploring the realities in the lives of seven different women. From there, any poetry or choreopoetry Ms. Shange created and developed was put in her collection, “For Colored Girls…” Eventually, the collection became a best-selling book and a well-received off-Broadway play.
I first saw “For Colored Girls…” when I moved back to California sometime in the late 1970’s . Instead of attending the play with my husband at the time, I attended it with girlfriends who would be more available to the emotional aspects of the play. We found the play to be one of the most profound pieces of work we’d ever experienced, mostly because of the subject matter. Ntozake spoke the language of our hearts. She reminded us of our heartbreaks and sorrows but we didn’t feel defeated as we watched the actresses perform her choreopoetry.
By the end of the play, after shedding tears and squelching anger, we, the audience, rose triumphantly embracing the actresses with our thunderous applause! We chanted, “I found God in myself and I loved her!” Were there any more powerful words a woman could say when life had seemed defeating? This was the gift I found in Ms. Shange’s work! We affirmed that life’s hard tricks could not defeat us as we walked out of that theater. There was so much excitement in the crowd as we walked into the sunlight of an early summer evening. Conversations buzzed around ours as we all had so much to say about which part of the play’s choreopoetry most affected us. We couldn’t just return to our homes; we needed to sit together, break bread and continue to share our findings, that which opened within us due to the depths the play caused us to explore.
Let’s perform “For Colored Girls…”, each of us taking a poem that resonates with us and provokes us to thought, laughter or one that we just find interesting…
I have described for you my experience with “For Colored Girls…”, and I now will challenge you, our book club members who now have received this book, to find the poem of your liking, one that speaks to your soul or spirit. The poem you choose, you will read to the club members. We will each “perform” our poems to each other much in the spirit of Ms. Shange’s play. While you do not have to learn your chosen poem by heart, you must learn it well enough that when we hear it, we hear the voice of the poem NOT the person reading the poem. Take time to read and reread and reread the poem you choose until its words roll out of your mouth, each word with meaning and innerstanding. A performance means that you put your talent, your enthusiasm, your sassiness into that poem! Make it YOUR poem!
This is how we will read this book. Each student chooses her poem and learns it to the point of deep connection. When it’s your turn to perform your poem, bring a prop or wear a color that best suits your poem. For example, Ariel has chosen to perform the poem, “lady in yellow”. She will bring something yellow when she reads her poem to the book club. Remember: THIS IS FUN! Step up with enthusiasm and recognize that these poems may represent something special that only you can connect with. We will choose our poems and start practicing on Wednesday.
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Our next meeting is THIS WEDNESDAY, 4 May 2011, IMMEDIATELY after school in Ms. Rasmussen’s class, room 15. Looking forward to seeing you there! BRING YOUR BOOKS & JOURNALS! (those who have received them)