Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Nappy Edges by Ntozake Shange
I don't really read a lot of poetry. I know that is blasphemous to say and that as an English teacher I am supposed to love poetry more than anything and that my deepest desire is supposed to be imparting this love onto my students but, eh, I don't LOVE poetry. There are however, a few specific poems that I absolutely love (for example, Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost and My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke) and at the top of that list is the poem "With No Immediate Cause," from this collection. I don't know the legality of posting the poem so I will just post a link:
If you read the poem you will see that it seems very angry. The speaker is shocked and saddened by what she sees is society overlooking the horrific everyday violence and abuse women face. This is a common theme that runs throughout Shange's work. I can still vividly remember the scene from her amazing play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf," where two children get thrown out of the window by an angry husband. That was traumatizing. This IS a very angry poem but it is more than that. I can remember as a teenager, reading this with my friend who had experienced some of the things Shange talks about and how reading it together opened up a whole new level to our friendship and our desire to educate others about these issues. This is not just a poem about someone who is angry over the state of things today, it is a call to arms, a rallying cry for all women, to come together, and support one another whenever we feel like life has given up on us. Good stuff. That's just one poem btw, the rest of the book is great too, but obviously, that poem really stuck with me.