Her birthday passed a few days ago. As her literary executor, I wondered if I should stoke myself up into sending out her manuscripts of poetry and short stories again. It’s been roughly six years since my last half-hearted if honorable effort. I solicited blurbs from a couple of well-known women poets, one a local surrealist, the other one of the last Queens of the Beats. They both declined. Increasingly, as April 13th got closer, I made note of the headlines and wondered, “What would Susannah have thought of that?” She died nearly a generation ago, on the horizon of the societal sea changes brought about by computers and the internet—many of those changes may have benefited her and extended her life into this century. Ms. Foster would have protested all the wars. She would have changed her party affiliation to support Obama. She would have said “I told you so,” when Wall Street and the housing markets crashed. Hybrid vehicles would have appealed to her Save-the-Earth consciousness. She would have been at the forefront of the new movement to legalize marijuana, organizing demonstrations and making picket signs. Agoraphobic in her last months, she would have loved the convenience of cell phones and the quality of escape offered by high definition flat-screen television. She would have tweeted and twittered her heart out. And when I dropped in for a slug of moonshine and to unload my cynicisms, she would have made me laugh away my miseries, then she’d’ve sent me home with a new recipe to try.

Originally Published: April 18th, 2010

Poet and writer Wanda Coleman was a blatantly humanist artist who won much critical acclaim for her unusually prescient and often innovative work, but who struggled to make a living from her craft. In discussing “my life in poetry,” More magazine, April 2005, Camille Paglia said of Coleman: “She’s not...