Wanda Coleman

Wicked Enchantment
  • Wicked Enchantment

  • 'Essential reading' Roger Robinson
    'Hateful and hilarious, heartbroke and hellbent' Mary Karr
    'Sure, wise and devastating . . . a joy' Caleb Azumah Nelson
    'Wanda Coleman is not just wickedly wise, she is transcendent' Washington Post

    Nobody wrote about police hassle like she did. Nobody wrote about making ends meet, about the history of the slave trade or the comedy of the daily grind, with the same breathtaking originality and brio; and few writers, before or since, have had the courage to write with such honesty about their everyday experience of life - and love - in an unjust world.

    This is the first ever UK publication of the poetry of Wanda Coleman: a beat-up, broke and Black woman who wrote with defiance, humour and clarity about her life on the margins, and who went overlooked by the establishment for decades - even as she was known colloquially as 'the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles'.

    Wicked Enchantment gathers 130 of Coleman's poems in a selection by Terrance Hayes. Funny, angry, endlessly alive and written with an immediacy and frankness that captivate, here is the essential work of a poet of fierce resistance and self-belief against the odds.

Wanda Coleman was born in the Watts neighbourhood of Los Angeles in 1946. Her first collection was Mad Dog Black Lady, published in 1979 by Black Sparrow Press, who would remain her publisher for the rest of her life. Early fellowships were followed by years of limited recognition, during which she wrote a number of books including American Sonnets (1994). The selection of Mercurochrome (2001) as a National Book Awards finalist began to breathe new life into her reputation. In 2012, she won the Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Award. She died in 2013.

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