CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 25, 2012 |
What is the rhythm of Los Angeles? Before hearing poet Wanda Coleman speak at the Los Angeles Central Library recently, it had never occurred to me to think that L.A. has a rhythm. Coleman is an L.A. native whose poems have taken her around the world as an ambassador of Angeleno attitude. She shared the stage at the library's "ALOUD" lecture series with another great L.A. poet, Lewis MacAdams. When you leave L.A. and come back, Coleman told us, you feel the unique way time and people move here.
April 22, 2012 |
One of my favorite pieces of writing to emerge from the 1992 Los Angeles riots is a poem by a writer named Nicole Sampogna, called "Another L.A. " In it, the poet traces the odd dislocation of living on the Westside while so much of the city burns. "They send us home early, again," she begins, "supposedly for curfew sake, / but I know it's to beat the traffic. " And then: "over there the smoke rises, / horns blare, streets scream, / shoot, loot, / bash windows, bash heads, / lights out / knocked out / by a black & white with a baton.
May 1, 2005 |
Starting with her 1977 book, "Art in the Court of the Blue Fag," Coleman has produced a body of work -- poetry, novels, memoir, criticism and journalism -- that has moved more than one observer to dub her "the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles." She has been praised both as a black writer and an L.A. writer, but her aspirations and her achievements transcend such labels.
February 25, 2003 |
Possibly it wasn't Charles Bukowski's kind of joint, this grand library of marble, wingback chairs and oil paintings, a place with arched ceilings and a marble vestibule that commands a cathedral-like hush. Or maybe it wasn't, that is, until poet Wanda Coleman sashayed up to a podium at a reading to salute Black Sparrow Press, the maverick literary publisher that had been based in California for 36 years.
May 24, 2002 |
Like love, literature has the power to provoke both delight and very nasty quarrels. One such fight surrounds this week's cancellation of a reading at Esowon, the independent, black-owned bookstore that is Los Angeles' leading outlet for writing by African Americans. At the controversy's center is Wanda Coleman, the prizewinning poet and fiction writer whose 14 books include "Mercurochrome," a 2001 National Book Award nominee.
November 12, 2001 |
Most everyone knows Southern California for its broad, breathtaking vistas, the provocative curve of coastline or its vast grid--the stock-footage flourish of the establishing shot. Getting up close, though, has proved a challenge. Moving out of the cliche of Southern California and into the hidden particulars has always vexed, confused or stymied outsiders, who cling to the common notion that "there is no there there."