For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf

Dark Phrases of Womanhood: Madness and Imprisonment in Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf

Dark Phrases of Womanhood: Madness and Imprisonment in Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf

The first reading of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” was in 1955. It incited a national controversy regarding the antiestablishment movement and counter-culture. Its run-on sentence is equal parts avant-garde and angry, striking out at the post-World War II American vision, a vision Ginsberg seems to view as oppressive and stifling. The work begins with a statement on the potential of the generation:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night…(1-3)

Ginsburg’s opening passage thus speaks of the alienation associated with post-war American culture and its subsequent intellectual conformity (Galens 17). The tempo of the poem seems to further contextually emphasize the longing for escape from the status quo, even if the speed of society relegates the group to the fringes of the cultural mainstream.

Much like Ginsberg’s “Howl”, Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who...

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