A Tribute to Wanda Coleman

Jan 13, 2014

wanda-coleman photo by Rod BradleyThis weekend, Pasadena’s Red Hen Press and the Poetry Society of America offer a tribute to poet Wanda Coleman.

Join us as we pay tribute to Los Angeles’ unofficial poet laureate, Wanda Coleman, with an evening of readings and shared memories. We will honor what she did for poetry and who she was in Los Angeles:  a larger-than-life figure who for decades reminded us how to be our own authentic selves, who made us remember histories of poetry and oppression and music. We will miss her, we will celebrate her, we will remember her.

Saturday, January 18th at the Mark Taper Auditorium, South Pasadena author Ron Koertge, Altadenan poet Sesshu Foster, as well as Robin Coste Lewis, Suzanne Lummis, and Michael Datcher will remember this esteemed woman and poet. David Ornette Cherry, a jazz composer and musician, will provide the musical accompaniment, and Kate Gale and Brendan Constantine will moderate.

Editor of Poetry New Zealand, Alistair Paterson, says, “Coleman’s poetry, politically aware, darkly humorous, sensual and iconoclastic, presents a remarkable talent developed throughout a difficult life. . . . It’s the kind of poetry other writers can use as a yardstick for measuring their work—it sets a standard and demonstrates what a beautiful, adaptable, usable language colloquial English is.” (Poetry Foundation)

Books and broadsides of Coleman’s poetry will be available for purchase and a public reception will follow the program.

A Tribute to Wanda Coleman
Saturday, Jan. 18th, 5 p.m.
Mark Taper Auditorium, Los Angeles Central Library
630 W. Fifth St., L.A.
For more info, visit Library Foundation of Los Angeles (



1 Response for “A Tribute to Wanda Coleman”

  1. Bob Bryan says:


    This is a personal invitation for you to screen online my new documentary GV21 THE WANDA COLEMAN PROJECT: Genius. (period)

    Here is the location and the password:

    Who is Wanda Coleman?
    Remembering Wanda Coleman
    November 23, 2013|By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic

    Total Running Time: 87 Minutes

    PS the Private Screening Password cannot be published or shared with others. Other interested Screeners must receive the Screening Info directly from me.
    This is a “For Your Eyes Only Exclusive Invitation” for broadcast consideration.


    Here are two reviews and commentary from Wanda Coleman herself.

    Commentary by Wanda Coleman, Poet, Writer & Journalist

    Given that I am from the African-American subculture where questions are used to intimidate, oppress and confuse, it is rare that I enjoy either conducting interviews, or being the subject of them.

    However, independent and direct in his manner, and radiating empathy (without being precious or solicitous), Bob Bryan interviews his subjects in an unforgettable manner.

    Cool yet excited, all in the same moment, he is asks frank, inoffensive questions of genuine interest. At times his questions are startling, because they force the interviewee to assess and summarize quickly, leaving very little opportunity for B.S.

    He does not arouse suspicion, and does not give off the impression that he has some hidden agenda other than the subject at hand. Because of his careful research, he asks questions that have not been asked 100 times before. (In my case, he asked about how I think! This seldom happens.)

    This does not mean that a Bob Bryan interview is easy. It is not, because, in my case, it demanded that I do some sharp and quick thinking on timeworn-and-worry swollen feet.

    Bob Bryan may not know it, but he asks consummate clean questions, questions that are free of the sociological garbage of assumption, implication and innuendo – questions that told me, in my case, that he was open to what I had to say, and that if he had any preconceptions, he was keeping them to himself. The Bob Bryan experience is lean, comfortable and professional, and one of the best I’ve ever had.
    —Wanda Coleman, Poet, Writer & Journalist


    GV21 THE WANDA COLEMAN PROJECT: Genius. (period)
    Thoughts & Reflections by Poet Austin Straus, Wanda Coleman’s Husband

    Bob Bryan’s interview with Wanda Coleman is a classic example of a sensitive, intelligent, and superbly prepared Documentarian eliciting brilliant responses from a genius poet/writer/journalist who is forced by smart questions to think deeply, eloquently and movingly.

    Many moments in this film made me laugh or cry or just sit there in wonder at the depth and breadth of this woman’s mind. And I was her mate for nearly 33 years!

    This film is far and away the best of all the dozens of interviews Wanda ever did and I am profoundly greatful to Bob Bryan for giving me this treasure I can turn to whenever I feel like being reminded of my beloved’s fantastic mind.

    Bob, you have created a work of art, a masterpiece of the documentary interview.

    Thank you from my heart, Austin Straus=


    Review of GV21 THE WANDA COLEMAN PROJECT: Genius. (period)
    by Michelle “Chelle” Angelini

    Normally, I am not one to watch or listen to interviews, but GV21 The Wanda Coleman Project: Genius. had me riveted to my seat
    in front of my computer.

    I could not tear myself away from Bob Bryan’s unique questions or Wanda Coleman’s inspiring answers.

    I was so drawn in by her wonderful infectious laughter, her philosophy of life, her poetry, and Wanda herself. In the process,
    I learned new words and ideas to inspire me as a writer.

    To describe Wanda Coleman – she was vivacious, beautiful, self-assured – without being vain, and a champion to people who needed one.
    And not just black women, but to people of all races and both genders. I learned from her and learned about myself through her.

    Her poetry drew laughter and tears from me. I learned many facts to apply to myself and to my writing.

    Most of what I learned is her enthusiasm for the craft of writing.
    Her poem “Mastectomy” (from her book Mercurochrome) helped me to understand more about the physical and emotional nature
    of the removal of women’s breasts and I was in tears by the end of her reading.

    What drew me to listen with different ears when she read her poems was the emotion she poured into it.
    She didn’t just read it; she didn’t perform it – she was the poem come alive.

    I would love to watch this interview again to pick up anything I missed, since it was filled with so much amazing information.

    GV21 is not just an interview – it is a lesson in life, love, the craft of writing, and one writer’s way of surviving and overcoming what life handed her.
    This documentary should be required viewing in every creative writing classroom for young and emerging poets who think they want to write poetry
    or anything else.

    GV21 THE WANDA COLEMAN PROJECT will help them understand that the craft of writing is not just taking a pen to paper and splashing words onto it,
    but pouring everything – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – into the words and ideas that make it onto the page.

    Because of Bob Bryan’s excellent interview with a poet who will be missed intensely, I have a new-found appreciation for the craft with which
    I have been blessed and skilled to have as a talent.

    Thank you Bob, straight from my heart.

    ~Michelle~ Chelle Angelini .



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