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Wanda Coleman Needs Our Help!

By Harriet Staff

Jacket Copy reports that Wanda Coleman has been suffering from an upper-respiratory infection since September and has been in and out of the hospital. According to David L. Ulin at JC, “Because Coleman’s outpatient care will not be covered by insurance, she is asking for assistance. Donation checks can be sent to: Wanda Coleman, P.O. Box 571, Lancaster, CA 93534.” He goes on to write:

Coleman, 65, is an L.A. legend — a poet, essayist and fiction writer who helped transform the city’s literature when she emerged in the early 1970s. Born and raised in Watts, she writes, first and foremost, out of the community — both the African American community and that of Los Angeles.

In the 40 or so years since she began to publish, this idea — of L.A. as a literary landscape in its own right — has become common currency, but it’s no exaggeration to say that Coleman is a central driver in this cause.

When she began to write, Los Angeles literature was largely a literature of exile, written primarily by outsiders who came here from elsewhere, stayed briefly or lingered along the city’s glittering surfaces and did not invest the place with any depth. Working in the tradition of John Fante, Chester Himes and Charles Bukowski, Coleman invented a new way of thinking and writing about the city: street-level, gritty, engaged with it not as a mythic landscape, but in the most fundamental sense as home.

Home, of course, is a complicated concept, which is a constant theme in Coleman’s work. She embraces L.A. but fights back against it also, outraged by its inequities, its discrimination, its failed promises, its social and racial hierarchies.

Surf over to read more about Coleman’s life and work.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, November 26th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.