A voice for justice, anti-racism, and equality—here is the greatest and most powerful work of the people’s poet, Wanda Coleman.
One of the most talked about literary collections of the year is this collection by a beat-up, broke, and Black woman who wrote with anger, humor, and clarity about her life on the margins.
Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poems is a selection of her poems, 130 poems in all spanning four decades, edited and introduced by Terrance Hayes. Rejected by the literary elites during her lifetime, here’s what people are saying now:
—“Wanda Coleman is not just wickedly wise, she is transcendent.” The Washington Post
—“Hateful and hilarious, heartbroke and hellbent.” Mary Karr, New York Times bestselling author
—“One of the greatest poets ever to come out of L.A.” The New Yorker
—“Her work pushes us to confront injustice with as much candor as she did.” Poetry
—“Required Reading” Bustle
—“A handsome volume that includes many of her terrifying and fearlessly inventive sonnets.”—Cathy Park Hong, The New York Times
Brutal. Hilarious. Triumphant. These are not poems written for a college class, establishment approval, or polite applause; these poems were written because Ms. Coleman had to write what she saw and felt, and she wrote brilliantly. Few if any writers, before or since, have had the courage to write with such honesty about the daily experience of life in a racist world.
More praise for Wanda Coleman and Wicked Enchantment
“One of the greatest poets ever to come out of L.A., she shaped the city’s literary scene like few before her. . . . Rarely does a poet seem to want to take an already brutally brief form and speed it up. But Coleman’s sonnets are sprints, which is what makes their improvisations, modelled on American blues and jazz, so compelling.”
—Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker
“In Wicked Enchantment, Coleman’s fans, new and old, will find some of her most vital challenges to American racism and its market-driven culture, rendered in her uniquely unsettling lyric voice. Her work pushes us to confront injustice with as much candor as she did—and with as much care.”
—Lizzy Lerud, Poetry
“Coleman pulls the reader in with long, sinuous lines that keep driving forward, pulling you along. What further distinguishes her poetry, and installs it in its own domain, is her extravagant language — one detail is never enough; five are never too many.”
—John Yau, Hyperallergic
“How many other poets can you think of who can say: ‘My anger knows no bounds—it’s unlimited. I’m a big lady, I can stand up in front of almost any man and cuss him out and have no fear—you know what I’m sayin’? Because I will go to blows.’ This is a big bold no-holds-barred American voice, and you’ll need to buy this book, and read your favorite Wanda poems aloud—about Emmett Till, about her raggedy-ass old car, about giving birth, about South Africa, about her body and her dreams, about this country we all live in, as she did, seeing herself ‘thrown heart first into this ruin.’ ”
—David Gullette, The Arts Fuse
“Wanda Coleman’s poems combine manifesto and confession, inner and outer indictment, violence and tenderness, satire and sincerity.”
“Wanda taught me how to dig for the dirt, to get on the page and stink up the place. She taught me not to be afraid of my anger—to use it.”
“May be one of America’s best sonneteers but she was never celebrated as such during her lifetime because she didn’t play nice. Coleman was dismissed as too angry, too despairing, too contradictory, too unruly and too black.”—Cathy Park Hong, The New York Times