Wanda Coleman


Born on November 13, 1946, Wanda Coleman grew up in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. During her lifetime she worked as a medical secretary, magazine editor, journalist, and Emmy Award-winning scriptwriter before turning to poetry. Her poetry collections include Mercurochrome: New Poems (2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry; Bathwater Wine (Black Sparrow Press, 1998), which received the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Native in a Strange Land: Trials & Tremors (1996); Hand Dance (1993); African Sleeping Sickness (1990); Heavy Daughter Blues: Poems & Stories 1968-1986 (1988); and Imagoes (1983). She also wrote the books Jazz and Twelve O'Clock Tales: New Stories (2008), Mambo Hips & Make Believe: A Novel (Black Sparrow Press, 1999), and A War of Eyes and Other Stories (1988). A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, Coleman was regarded as a central figure in Los Angeles literary life. Source

Wanda Why Aren't You Dead

wanda when are you gonna wear your hair down

wanda. that's a whore's name

wanda why ain't you rich

wanda you know no man in his right mind want a

          ready-made family

why don't you lose weight

wanda why are you so angry

how come your feet are so goddamn big

can't you afford to move out of this hell hole

if i were you were you were you

wanda what is it like being black

i hear you don't like black men

tell me you're ac/dc. tell me you're a nympho. tell me you're

          into chains

wanda i don't think you really mean that

you're joking. girl, you crazy

wanda what makes you so angry

wanda i think you need this

wanda you have no humor in you you too serious

wanda i didn't know i was hurting you

that was an accident

wanda i know what you're thinking

wanda i don't think they'll take that off of you


wanda why are you so angry


i'm sorry i didn't remember that that that

that that that was so important to you


wanda you're ALWAYS on the attack


wanda wanda wanda i wonder


why ain't you dead





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Body & Body Image

Intersectionality & Culture

Racial Injustice


Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


words or phrases repeated one after another in quick succession

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered