The Riot Inside Me:

More Trial and Tremors

Softcover sale price: $12.95 (Regularly $18.95)

  • Wanda Coleman: winner of the Poetry Society of America’s 2012 Shelley Memorial Award!

In this, her second collection of nonfiction prose, Wanda Coleman continues the project she began in Native in a Strange Land (1996), a project she once described as “a tour through the restless emotional topography of Los Angeles as glimpsed through scattered fragments of my living memory.” It is a sometimes antic tour, with unforgettable commentary – Coleman’s “intermittent outcries, moans, shouts, and jubilations along the route.”

The Riot Inside Me once again finds the author at the bloody crossroads where art and politics, the personal and the political, and L.A. and the larger world meet and trade blows before resuming their separate paths. The 26 pieces gathered here – a “hopscotch” of essays, memoirs, interviews, and reports – are divided into four sections. One collects autobiographical pieces, including a haunting memoir of her first husband, a moth drawn to the flames of the more extreme forms of ’60s radicalism. Another section is reserved for polemics, mainly issues of Black & White; a third collects Coleman’s now famous “bad” review of Maya Angelou’s “Song Flung Up to Heaven” – “the most controversial piece I’ve yet written” – and a caustically funny report on its fallout. The book concludes with a group of essays on race, class, and poetry: pieces that one critic called “sardonic when it comes to politics and groups [but] tender and hopeful when it comes to individuals.”

Coleman is best known for her ‘warrior voice.’ [But her] voice too can weep elegiac, summoning memories of childhood’s neighborhoods – her South L.A.’s wild-frond palms, the smog-smear of pre-ecology consciousness. Her voice hits notes as desperate as Billie Holiday’s tours of sorrow’s more desolate stretches. But it can also land a wily punch line as solid as that of a stand-up comic.
Los Angeles Times

Satire and journalism are alive and well in L.A., at least when Coleman is doing the biting and the reporting.” So is art, and so, of course, is truth.
Publishers Weekly

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