Wanda Coleman

Born in the Los Angeles Community of Watts, and raised in South Central Los Angeles, Wanda Coleman's central focus is to explore the residuals of American slavery in contemporary life and to rehumanize the dehumanized--those victimized by those residuals. In the process she has become an innovator as well as a prolific writer, having published over eleven-hundred poems and one-hundred short stories. She appears in over 150 anthologies including Best American Poetry, Feminaissance (Les Figues ), and Letters to Poets: Conversations about Poetics, Politics and Community (Saturnalia). She has been an Emmy-winning scriptwriter, and a former columnist for Los Angeles Times magazine; a nominee for poet laureate, California 2005 and for the USA artists fellowship 2007. Coleman’s books from Black Sparrow Books (Godine) are Bathwater Wine, winner of the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize—the first African-American woman to receive the award, and Mercurochrome (poems), bronze-medal finalist at the National Book Awards in 2001. Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and two from the California Arts Council (in poetry and fiction). Her fiction appears in the collection A War of Eyes and Other Stories and the novel Mambo Hips and Make Believe. Her most recent books include Ostinato Vamps (Pitt Poetry Series) and The Riot Inside Me: Trials & Tremors (nonfiction, Godine/Black Sparrow). A new collection of stories, Jazz & Twelve O'Clock Tales was published in 2008 from Black Sparrow Books (finalist for the Patterson Fiction Prize). Coleman formerly co-hosted The Poetry Connexion interview program (1982-1996) with husband Austin Straus on Pacifica Radio KPFK for Southern California. Recent interviews with Coleman can be found in The Los Angeles Review, the Burnside Review, the Superstition Review and online at Ms. Magazine.