From the author's introduction: ""It waz just my poems, any poems I happened to have."" Ntozake Shange's raunchy, active poems of young black women--in love, in angry fits, in despair, in trouble, and in celebration--became a Broadway smash (still going strong) when they were acted, danced, physicalized, chanted, and sung by seven vibrant actresses. On the page, they are perhaps less irresistible, but their energy, humor, and honesty survive intact. Mostly they're first-person narratives (destined to be memorized by every aspiring black actress in the decade ahead) about coming-of-age (""it was graduation nite & i was the only virgin in the crowd""), unrequited passion (""this note is attached to a plant/ i've been waterin since the day i met you/you may water it/yr damn self""), and urban nightmares (""i usedta live in the world/then i moved to HARLEM""). Best of all are an eight-year-old's discovery of her first black hero, Toussaint L'Onverture, in the ADULT READING ROOM (""i never counted george washington carter/cuz i didn't like peanuts"") and ""a nite with beau willie brown,"" the harrowing horror-finale. Feminist doctrinaire moments (""the nature of rape has changed"") can't denaturalize Shange's ironic, humane outlook, and this ""choreopoem"" will be read (often aloud) and performed (in full--unified by the pop-musical cues and stage directions included here--or in pieces) with the rising excitement of recognition.