Cover image for Mercurochrome : new poems
Title:
Mercurochrome : new poems
Author:
Coleman, Wanda.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Santa Rosa, CA : Black Sparrow Press, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
270 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781574231557

9781574231533

9781574231540
Format :
Book

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PS3553.O47447 M4 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Coleman's courageous, impassioned voice, defiantly affirming itself in the face of social injustice and institutional dehumanization, rings out clearer than ever in her new book, Mercurochrome. So does her sensuous, vivid, tactile verbal mandala: love / as i live it seems more like mercurochrome / than anything else /i can conjure up. it looks so pretty and red, /and smells of a balmy / coolness when you uncap the little applicator. /but swab it on an / open sore and you nearly die under the stabbing / burn. recovery / leaves a vague tenderness.... These high-energy, incandescent poems turn up the emotional thermostat, sizzling and shooting off sparks.


Summary

Coleman's courageous, impassioned voice, defiantly affirming itself in the face of social injustice and institutional dehumanization, rings out clearer than ever in her new book, Mercurochrome. So does her sensuous, vivid, tactile "verbal mandala": "love / as i live it seems more like mercurochrome / than anything else /i can conjure up. it looks so pretty and red, /and smells of a balmy / coolness when you uncap the little applicator. /but swab it on an / open sore and you nearly die under the stabbing / burn. recovery / leaves a vague tenderness...".

These high-energy, incandescent poems turn up the emotional thermostat, sizzling and shooting off sparks.


Author Notes

Wanda Coleman was born in Los Angeles, California on November 13, 1946. She attended Los Angeles Valley College and California State Los Angeles but did not earn a degree. In the early 1970s, she embarked on a journalism career with an assignment from the Los Angeles Free Press to write about a fundraiser for Black Panther supporter Angela Davis. However, her sarcastic coverage caused consternation in the Davis camp, and she was blackballed by the underground paper for a decade. In 1975 she landed a job writing for the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives and won a daytime Emmy for her work the following year.

She took writing workshops around Los Angeles. Her first book of poetry, Art in the Court of the Blue Fag, was published in 1977. During her lifetime, she wrote more than 20 books including Mad Dog, Black Lady; Imagoes; Heavy Daughter Blues; Mercurochrome; and The Riot Inside Me: More Trials and Tremors. She won the Lenore Marshall National Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets in 1999 for Bathwater Wine. In 2012, she received the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. She died after a long illness on November 22, 2013 at the age of 67.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Wanda Coleman was born in Los Angeles, California on November 13, 1946. She attended Los Angeles Valley College and California State Los Angeles but did not earn a degree. In the early 1970s, she embarked on a journalism career with an assignment from the Los Angeles Free Press to write about a fundraiser for Black Panther supporter Angela Davis. However, her sarcastic coverage caused consternation in the Davis camp, and she was blackballed by the underground paper for a decade. In 1975 she landed a job writing for the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives and won a daytime Emmy for her work the following year.

She took writing workshops around Los Angeles. Her first book of poetry, Art in the Court of the Blue Fag, was published in 1977. During her lifetime, she wrote more than 20 books including Mad Dog, Black Lady; Imagoes; Heavy Daughter Blues; Mercurochrome; and The Riot Inside Me: More Trials and Tremors. She won the Lenore Marshall National Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets in 1999 for Bathwater Wine. In 2012, she received the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. She died after a long illness on November 22, 2013 at the age of 67.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

"i am an outlaw, they assert./ there's a ten-digit number stamped on my frontal lobe." This sprawling eleventh collection of poems from the Los Angeles-based Coleman finds her zig-zagging between continuations of series begun in American Sonnets and the 1999 Lenore Marshall Prize-winning Bathwater Wine, and grief-stricken ruminations written out of her son's early death from cancer. Coleman, long a front-line voice in the battle against America's seemingly endless supply of institutionalized racism, sets her sights on store owners, academicians, and the brands of social hypocrisy particular to her home city: "the intellectuals are walking/ around with Boy Scout knives/ buried in their brains/ while over three hundred corpses a year/ are found rotting in Griffith Park." The six sections of the book are sharply set off via subject matter, with the dream-shaped, long-form meditations on consciousness in "A Kingdom of Clouds" and the smoldering race-based critiques in "Metaphysically Niggerish" especially strong. An eighty-one page section of imitations and transliterations of poets from Ammons to Zukofsky (using Mark Strand's anthology The Contemporary American Poets as a source) serves as a different kind of departure point, as Coleman creates dialogs with mostly White poets through a close study and recasting of their own lines: "The academy of the future has closed doors. / It is unwilling books banned, curtains drawn." (after John Ashbery) The book's length at times dilutes the poetry's overall power, perhaps a by-product of Black Sparrow's insistence on long manuscripts from its authors, but this is a minor complaint. In her mid-fifties, with a formidable collection of work already behind her, Coleman's emotional depth and battered, unwavering search for private and public levels of justice continues to expand. (Aug.) Forecast: Coleman has long published her novels (including Mambo Hips and Make Believe) short stories and many poetry collections with Santa Barbara-based Black Sparrow. This book will be well reviewed in the small-press community, and should generate larger-press interest in a selected or collected. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Publisher's Weekly Review

"i am an outlaw, they assert./ there's a ten-digit number stamped on my frontal lobe." This sprawling eleventh collection of poems from the Los Angeles-based Coleman finds her zig-zagging between continuations of series begun in American Sonnets and the 1999 Lenore Marshall Prize-winning Bathwater Wine, and grief-stricken ruminations written out of her son's early death from cancer. Coleman, long a front-line voice in the battle against America's seemingly endless supply of institutionalized racism, sets her sights on store owners, academicians, and the brands of social hypocrisy particular to her home city: "the intellectuals are walking/ around with Boy Scout knives/ buried in their brains/ while over three hundred corpses a year/ are found rotting in Griffith Park." The six sections of the book are sharply set off via subject matter, with the dream-shaped, long-form meditations on consciousness in "A Kingdom of Clouds" and the smoldering race-based critiques in "Metaphysically Niggerish" especially strong. An eighty-one page section of imitations and transliterations of poets from Ammons to Zukofsky (using Mark Strand's anthology The Contemporary American Poets as a source) serves as a different kind of departure point, as Coleman creates dialogs with mostly White poets through a close study and recasting of their own lines: "The academy of the future has closed doors. / It is unwilling books banned, curtains drawn." (after John Ashbery) The book's length at times dilutes the poetry's overall power, perhaps a by-product of Black Sparrow's insistence on long manuscripts from its authors, but this is a minor complaint. In her mid-fifties, with a formidable collection of work already behind her, Coleman's emotional depth and battered, unwavering search for private and public levels of justice continues to expand. (Aug.) Forecast: Coleman has long published her novels (including Mambo Hips and Make Believe) short stories and many poetry collections with Santa Barbara-based Black Sparrow. This book will be well reviewed in the small-press community, and should generate larger-press interest in a selected or collected. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved