Hand Dance

Her father’s fatal illness. The inner life of an urban charity hospital. “Unfinished Ghost Stories.” “American Sonnets.” “Dreams.” This is vintage Wanda Coleman, the poet of the people.

Coleman wrote as a witness. She captured her world and its truths, of life with the constants of race, fear, poverty, gender, inequality, oppression. Through it all, there is passionate love and sexuality, humor and drama — her work is full of startling confession and breathtaking power.

The Nation said of Hand Dance: “Coleman’s poems are an act of liberation, meant to be experienced as something almost physical, like a punch or a whipping . . . she wants her language to express anger, to incite anger, and to shake all those who read it out of their complacency.”

A college dropout and single mom in Watts, Coleman was disregarded by the establishment during her lifetime. It’s time for her work to be discovered by readers everywhere.

Wanda Coleman—poet, short story writer, novelist, and essayist—was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. Coleman was awarded the prestigious 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for Bathwater Wine from the American Academy of Poets, becoming the first African-American woman to ever win the prize, and was a bronze-medal finalist for the 2001 National Book Award for Poetry for MercurochromeWicked Enchantment: Selected Poems is the first new collection of her work since her death in 2013.

VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH
+ Six stellar poets came together with Black Sparrow Press and to celebrate the publication of Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poems. The incredible gathering of acclaimed poets and bona fide Wanda Coleman fans—Mahogany L. Browne, Terrance Hayes, Dorothea Lasky, Rachel McKibbens, Patricia Smith, and Amber Tamblyn—read from and discussed Coleman’s influential work. | Watch

READ
+ Poetry Foundation on Wanda Coleman | Read
+ “Remembering Wanda Coleman” Los Angeles Times | Read
+ Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award | Read
+ “Remembering Wanda Coleman” by Amber Tamblyn | Read
+ Obituary: Wanda Coleman Los Angeles Times | Read

VIEW (Poems from Wicked Enchantment)
+ “I Live for My Car” | Watch
+ “Wanda Why Aren’t You Dead” | Watch
+ “They Came Knocking On My Door at 7 AM” | Watch

LISTEN
+ Wanda Coleman Interviewed (2002) | Listen