Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2020

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English, Linguistics, and Communication

Department Chair or Program Director

Richards, Gary Dr.

First Advisor

Scanlon, Mara Dr.

Major or Concentration



The concept and criteria of what constitutes the American long poem has been debated by critics for years. Ntozake Shange redefines what is traditionally considered the long poem by experimenting with form and voice in her poem, for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf. The inclusion of stage directions, dancing, and chanting contributes to reimagining the long poem. Shange distinguishes her work from traditional western poetry using these features, all part of her newly christened genre the choreopoem, an art form that does not contain traditional epic features but instead draws inspiration from theatre. Shange embraces the idea of a community through her description of black female experiences in a poignant and raw vernacular. Poetic form, and more specifically, the use of the choreopoem, resist and enables the deconstruction of historical narrative regarding black female bodies by replacing it with realistic images that validate the experiences of women in the community.