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CSULA Department of English | Events

Wanda Coleman will be the guest reader at the 2013 Jean Burden Poetry Reading. The event will take place on Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 6:30pm in the Golden Eagle Ballroom. Doors will open at 5:45 for refreshments and seating. 

The event is free and open to the public. There will be book sales and signing following the reading, with four titles by Ms. Coleman available for sale in advance at the University Bookstore as well as at the reading.

Photo of Wanda Coleman

photo credit: Penelope Patrick Oshatz

This event is made possible by the College of Arts and Letters, the Department of English, the Department of Pan-African Studies, the CSULA Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, Statement Magazine, The University of Pittsburgh Press, and Students Speak: Music and Literature Society.

icon for Adobe AcrobatDownload Announcement of Wanda Coleman's Appearance

For more information, call the Cal State L.A. English Department at (323) 343-4140.

Wanda Coleman

Often called the "unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles, Wanda Coleman was born in the Watts community of South Los Angeles and has been a prominent figure in the Los Angeles literary world for over thirty years. In 2012, she was awarded the prestigious Shelley Memorial Award by the Poetry Society of America and she is a past recipient of California Arts Council, NEA, and Guggenheim fellowships. Coleman has published over twenty books, including Bathwater Wine, winner of the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and Mercurochrome: New Poems, a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award. Her most recent volumes of poetry are Ostinato Vamps (2003) and The World Falls Away (2011). She has twice been a finalist for Poet Laureate of California (2005, 2012) and in 2003 was the first literary fellow named by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. 


Photo of Book Cover for The World Falls Away by Wanda Coleman

Praise for The World Falls Away

"In The World Falls Away, Wanda Coleman's poems glow with an almost radioactive edginess. Yet, there is also range and substance giving her intense American voice staying power. To use Whitman’s word, her work has 'amplitude.'"—Diane Wakoski

"Pulses with energy. This vibrant collection . . . offers some excellent poems.”—Library Journal

"Wanda Coleman's hard-edged new collection interrogates death's nearsightedness. Mother outlives son. Feet wear out before the heart. And the truth-teller dies before truth frees her. These poems don’t go gently. Elegy turns protest: 'there is a never and there is a too late.' These are sharp warnings from death's 'small mean domain,' it's not too late to heed them."—Douglas Kearney

"What strikes me first about The World Falls Away is Wanda Coleman's musical inventiveness. These poems are sonically complex and technically riveting, Coleman's lyric poems buzzing with energy, constantly shifting rhythms, and surprising wordplay. But along with this musical dexterity comes a poetic mind of great subtlety. Whether Coleman meditates on her own life—her youth in LA, the heartbreaking death of her child—or, more broadly on music, history, or African American identity, she writes with clarity, wisdom, and piercing intelligence. This is an admirable book from start to finish." —Kevin Prufer

"Coleman presents a series of subtle and revelatory poems in her new collection. . . . Coleman’s ability to simultaneously conjure the tactile and the abstract makes her works crackle with life and inspire multiple interpretation. . . . Coleman’s aching and meditative poetry gives voice to inquiries and echoes.”—ALA Booklist


Praise for Ostinato Vamps

"[Coleman] is best known for what has often been termed her 'warrior voice,' her inclination to impatiently peel away small talk’s polite veneer, to scissor through to the heart of the matter. . . . [A] master of telling unvarnished truths—about self, about the world, about personal past and our collective future."—Los Angeles Times

"Adds a remarkably divergent voice to the richly multicultural strain of recent American poetry. A poet of tremendous range and verbal energy. . . . 

Photo of Wanda Coleman's Ostinato Vamps


Coleman is a poet who courts disruption as a way of making sense of a mind-boggling diversity of values."—West Branch

"Bejeweled with an optimism that can only be generated by the will, Wanda Coleman's Ostinato Vamps compels the reader to nod in agreement at the inevitable pessimism life produces, then turn on a dime as her lines rebel against such fate. . . . Arranges snapshots of life into a mural so heart-stoppingly profound, we must pause and catch our breath after reading each poem."—Home Planet News

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