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Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poems

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ONE OF THE YEAR’S BEST—The New York Times and Washington Post

A voice for justice, anti-racism, and equality—here is the greatest and most powerful work of the people’s poet, Wanda Coleman.


Coleman was a beat-up, broke, and Black woman who wrote with anger, humor, and clarity. Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poems is a selection of 130 of her poems, edited and introduced by Terrance Hayes. Rejected by the elites during her lifetime, here’s what people are saying now:

One of the year’s best! “These poems are wildly fun and inventive . . . and frequently hilarious; they seem to cover every human experience and emotion.”—New York Times

—Winner, California Independent Bookseller Alliance ‘Golden Poppy’ Book Award 2020

—“Required Reading” Bustle

—“One of the greatest poets ever to come out of L.A.” The New Yorker

—One of the year’s best! “Fantastically entertaining and deeply engaging...potent distillations of creative rage, social critique, and subversive wit.”—Washington Post

—“Her work pushes us to confront injustice with as much candor as she did.”—Poetry

A self-made writer from Black Los Angeles, Wanda Coleman made art while living every day with racism, poverty, violence. Her triumph is in words that endure. It’s time for Coleman’s courageous, impassioned, inspiring, one-of-a-kind voice to reach readers everywhere.

ISBN-13: 9781574232370

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: David R. Godine Publisher

Publication Date: 04-07-2020

Pages: 224

Product Dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Wanda Coleman—poet, storyteller and journalist—was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. Coleman was awarded the prestigious 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for Bathwater Wine from the American Academy of Poets, becoming the first African-American woman to ever win the prize, and was a bronze-medal finalist for the 2001 National Book Award for Poetry for Mercurochrome. Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poems is the first new collection of her work since her death in 2013. Terrance Hayes (editor) is the author of Lighthead (National Book Award winner) and, most recently, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times Critics' Top Books of 2018)—both from Penguin Books. Hayes was awarded a MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 2014. Hayes served as the 2017-2018 poetry editor for New York Times Magazine, and was guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2014. Hayes lives in New York City.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“These poems are wildly fun and inventive . . . and frequently hilarious; they seem to cover every human experience and emotion.”—New York Times

“Fantastically entertaining and deeply engaging...potent distillations of creative rage, social critique, and subversive wit.”—Washington Post

“Wanda Coleman’s work has that ineffable quality that accompanies poetry you understand in your belly and your head....You get the jazz, the soul and also the idiosyncrasy. It is an unmistakable style that propels a Coleman poem, and draws us into it.”—Reginald Dwayne Betts, New York Times

“Wanda Coleman’s peerless Wicked Enchantment has words to crack you open and heal you where it counts—hateful and hilarious, heartbroke and hellbent. All honor to her name.”—Mary Karr

“Among the most essential writers Los Angeles has produced.”—Los Angeles Times

“Coleman’s significance is unquestioned.”—Poetry Foundation

“Wanda Coleman is a master of honesty. Her writing is an artifact of a life defined by brilliance, outspokenness, and survival.”—Courtney Taylor, Slice

“A handsome volume that includes many of her terrifying and fearlessly inventive sonnets.”—Cathy Park Hong, New York Times

“Her work pushes us to confront injustice with as much candor as she did.”—Poetry

“One of the greatest poets ever to come out of L.A.” —The New Yorker

“Required Reading” —Bustle

One of the Year’s BestThe New York Times, The Washington Post, The Irish Times, and the California Independent Bookseller Alliance

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Wanda in Her Own Words xiv

Mad Dog Black Lady

Wanda in Worryland 21

Doing Battle with the Wolf 22

They Came Knocking on My Door at 7 A.M. 25

Sessions 26

The Woman and Her Thang 28

Beaches. Why I Don't Care for Them 29

Imagoes

I Live for My Car 30

When My Time Comes 31

Doctor's Report 32

Giving Birth 33

My Love Brings Flowers 35

Felon 37

'Tis Morning Makes Mother a Killer 39

Imagoes 40

The Saturday Afternoon Blues 44

I Love the Dark 45

Heavy Daughter Blues

Male Order Catalogue 46

The Mountains/Entrails Curling Down and Out of the Hole in the Side 47

Essay on Language 48

Woman on Sand 50

Scratch Me 51

Standoff in East Hollywood 52

Wanda Why Aren't You Dead 53

Heavy Daughter Blues 54

Bottom Out Blues 55

African Sleeping Sickness

Ms. Pac Man 57

Bruno 58

Emmett Till 60

Auguries 64

African Sleeping Sickness 65

American Sonnet 68

The First Day of Spring 1985 69

How Does It Hurt 71

Dream 924 72

Nosomania 73

Notes of a Cultural Terrorist 75

Invitation to a Gunfighter 76

American Sonnet 2 77

Hand Dance

Hand Dance 78

Chair Affair 80

We Meet the Black Rimbaud 81

February 11th 1990 82

Aptitude Test 83

Essay on Language 2 85

To the other Wanda Coleman-with apologies 87

American Sonnet 3 88

American Sonnet 5 89

American Sonnet 6 90

Notes of a Cultural Terrorist 2 91

We could've made it if 93

American Sonnet 7 94

Essay on Language 3 95

Dream 1218 96

Want Ads 98

Neruda 99

Life as a Cartoon 100

For Me When I Am Myself 101

American Sonnet 9 109

Gone But Not Forgotten 110

Dream 1319 111

Soul Eyes 112

Nocturne 113

American Sonnets

American Sonnet 12 114

American Sonnet 15 115

American Sonnet 16 116

American Sonnet 18 117

American Sonnet 23 118

American Sonnet 24 119

Bathwater Wine

November's Song 120

Letter to My Older Sister 122

Things No One Knows 123

Two Times Baby 124

Letter to My Older Sister 2 125

American Sonnet 26 126

American Sonnet 34 127

American Sonnet 39 128

American Sonnet 43 129

American Sonnet 44 130

American Sonnet 49 131

American Sonnet 51 132

American Sonnet 54 133

American Sonnet 60 134

American Sonnet 61 135

American Sonnet 66 136

American Sonnet 70 137

American Sonnet 71 138

American Sonnet 75 139

American Sonnet 79 140

American Sonnet 82 141

American Sonnet 85 142

Essay on Language 5 143

I Imagine the Angels of Rage 144

Salvation Wax 145

Late Broadcast News 171

Etheridge 174

Jazz Whine 175

Life as a Cartoon 2 176

I Ain't Yo Earthmama 178

Pseudo Dickinsonian Cento Blues 181

I Ain't Yo Earthmama 2 182

Mercurochrome

Letter to My Older Sister 4 183

Zed Chronology 184

Essay on Language 6 185

Letter to My Older Sister 5 188

Twentieth Century Nod-Out 190

Twentieth Century Nod-Out 2 191

Against Forgetting Cento 192

American Sonnet 25 193

American Sonnet 88 194

American Sonnet 94 195

American Sonnet 95 196

American Sonnet 98 197

Thiefheart 198

Blind Cassandra 199

Hornets 200

Dream Song 811 202

Consciousness Raising Exercise 203

The Queen on Her Color 204

Black Alice Laments 206

Put Some Sex Sonnet 208

I Ain't Yo Earthmama 3 209

Supermarket Surfer 210

Obituary 211

Her Poem 212

My Bleak Visitation 213

Outside In 214

Having Lost My Son, I Confront the Wreckage 215

Letter to My Older Sister 6 216

Black-Handed Curse 217

Moon Cherries 218

Notes & Acknowledgements 221