Before anything else, don’t forget to stop by and read more poems from the poetry round-up graciously hosted by Kara at Rogue Anthropologist. Now, on to our feature. I chose Ntozake Shange’s 1983 poem, Mood Indigo*, to share with you for today’s Poetry Friday. This poem was taken from her poetry collection entitled, “A Daughter’s Geography.” The text of Mood Indigo was used in the poetry picturebook collaboration of Ntozake Shange and Kadir Nelson. The book is entitled Ellington Was Not a Street.
The free verse poem begins with the following lines:
it hasn’t always been this way
ellington was not a street
Mood Indigo is a tribute to the African-American community in which Ntozake Shange recalls her childhood when her family welcomed and entertained a group of notable men who gathered there.
robeson no mere memory
du bois walked up my father’s stairs
hummed some tune over me
sleeping in the company of men
who changed the world
Shange’s beautiful and powerful recollection is brought to life by the stunning oil paintings of Kadir Nelson. Their work reminds us of the people who excelled in their field and dedicated their lives for the community, took pride in the African-American culture, and helped in a movement to change the world. The following lines are my favorite:
our house was filled with all kinda folks
our windows were not cement or steel
our doors opened like our daddy’s arms
held us safe & loved
*Mood Indigo is also the title of a song by Duke Ellington and his famous orchestra. Duke Ellington was regarded as the greatest composer in jazz history.