Ntozake Shange

Ntozake Shange

About Ntozake Shange

Ntozake Shange (October 18, 1948, Trenton, New Jersey - October 27, 2018, Bowie, Maryland), pseudonym of Paulette L. Williams, was an American poet, playwright, dancer, actress, musician and director. As a self-proclaimed black feminist, she has addressed issues relating to race and feminism in much of her work. Se has received several awards for her feminist-influenced works such as the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, and in 1981 she received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry for Three Pieces. She is also recognized as the founding poet of the Nuyorican Poets Café. Together with her generation poets friends Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Toni Cade Bambara, she achieved a recognized place in US literature for African American authors for the first time in the 1970s.
She published many books of poetry including Ridin’ the Moon in Texas: Word Paintings (St. Martin’s Press, 1987); From Okra to Greens (Coffee House Press, 1984); A Daughter’s Geography (St. Martin’s Press, 1983); Three Pieces (1981), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Nappy Edges (St. Martin’s Press, 1978); Natural Disasters and Other Festive Occasions (Heirs, 1977); and Melissa & Smith (Bookslinger, 1976). But Shange was most famous for her play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf (1975) which won an Obie Award and received Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award nominations. It was a unique blend of poetry, music, dance and drama called a choreopoem, as it became an electrifying Broadway hit and provoked heated exchanges about the relationships between black men and women.
She has also written several novels including Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo, Liliane and Betsey Brown, a novel about an African American girl who runs away from home. Her awards and accolades include grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Lilac Wallace Reader's Digest Fund and a Pushcart Prize. In April 2016, Barnard College announced that it had acquired its archive. She lived in Brooklyn, New York and then moved to a care facility in Bowie, Maryland, where She lived until her death.
She also wrote many children’s books and prose works, including Some Sing, Some Cry (2010), If I Can Cook You Know God Can (1998), See No Evil: Prefaces, Essays & Accounts, 1976-1983 (1984), Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo: A Novel (1982), and The Black Book (1986, with Robert Mapplethorpe).

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