This slim volume is set for stage performance and is described as a choreopoem. Originally written and performed on Broadway in the 1970s, these poems ring true even today. They are about women, love, family, abuse, relationships, identity, and friendship among women. Most would say that these poems are only about the African-American experience and are thus only meaningful to African-American women, but I would challenge that notion in that women in society have common issues and goals no matter their background.
Shange has a gift in that she is able to transport the reader along as the women in the play feel and experience the retelling of their stories and the stories of the other women. Some stories are told in groups. Others focus on the story of one woman. The women are each dressed in a different color and are identified as such (Lady in Yellow, Lady in Red)- of the rainbow perhaps. In the end they have each other even after all that they’ve been through, even after the pain of telling their stories these women continue to support one another. We see that the rainbow is enough, it is a celebration of friendship and support among women.
A particularly inspiring poem is about a young girl (the young lady in brown) who finds Toussaint L’Ouverture after months of reading about Pippi Longstocking, Christopher Robin and other “pioneer girls & magic rabbits & big city white boys” in the children’s room. She steals into the adult room and finds this Haitian hero who inspires her and provides an outlet.