11 Powerful Ntozake Shange Quotes That Will Make You Want To Read All Of Her Work

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By Kerri Jarema

Beloved poet and playwright Ntozake Shange died this weekend at age 70. The writer has been considered one of the most influential writers of our time, thanks in large part to her most famous work, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. The "choreopoem" (a term Shange coined) found massive critical success on stage in 1975 (it was only the second play by an African-American woman to appear on Broadway after A Raisin in the Sun) and was nominated for a Tony Award. But it also cemented Shange as one of the strongest voices for black women in the arts and beyond.

For Colored Girls delves into the racism, sexism, violence and rape experienced by seven black women through an interwoven series of poetic monologues, which on stage are set to music. When it was first released in 1975, the piece was considered revolutionary not only for its content, but for its style, which uses unique punctuation and spelling. Beyond that Shange published 19 poetry collections, six novels, five children's books and three collections of essays. Below are 11 inspiring quotes from a variety of Shange's works and beyond, which will no doubt have you adding everything she wrote to your bookshelves in no time.

“Where there is a woman there is magic. If there is a moon falling from her mouth, she is a woman who knows her magic, who can share or not share her powers. A woman with a moon falling from her mouth, roses between her legs and tiaras of Spanish moss, this woman is a consort of the spirits.”

“rise up fallen fighters/ unfetter the stars/ dance with the universe & make it ours”

"I'm a firm believer that language and how we use language determines how we act, and how we act then determines our lives and other people's lives."

"Creation is everything you do. Make something."

"but bein alive & bein a woman & bein colored is a metaphysical dilemma/ i havent conquered yet/ do you see the point my spirit is too ancient to understand the separation of soul & gender/ my love is too delicate to have thrown back on my face"

"I write for young girls of color, for girls who don’t even exist yet, so that there is something there for them when they arrive. I can only change how they live, not how they think."

"we need a god who bleeds now/ whose wounds are not the end of anything”

“let her be born / let her be born / & handled warmly.”

“i got 15 trumpets where other women got hips & a upright bass for both sides of my heart”