Wicked Enchantment Wanda Coleman
This is the first ever UK publication of the poetry of Wanda Coleman: a beat-up, broke Black woman who wrote with anger, humour and clarity about her life on the margins, and who went overlooked by the establishment for much of her career even as she was known colloquially as the ‘unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles’.
Nobody wrote about police hassle like she did. Nobody wrote about poverty, about making do with what’s on hand, about the slave trade or about their personal vendetta against slow walkers in the supermarket, in quite the same way. Wicked Enchantment gathers 130 of Coleman’s best poems, spanning some four decades, in a selection by Terrance Hayes. Mary Karr has called it ‘hateful and hilarious, heartbroke and hellbent’; the Washington Post says that ‘Wanda Coleman is not just wickedly wise, she is transcendent’; the New Yorker calls her ‘one of the greatest poets ever to come out of L. A.’
Brutal, hilarious, triumphant, wild and paradoxically, sometimes horrifically precise, these are not poems written for a course, for establishment approval or for polite applause; they were written because Coleman had to write what she saw and felt, and 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.
Published 1 April 2021