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.'
The burnings from which Coleman culls her work casts a glow and unique warmth that invites the reader to sit by her metaphorical hearth, to laugh and enjoy their “conversation.” The contemplative and philosophical have entered her voice as she continues to explore the conflicts and confusions that shape the aesthetic terrain of Southern California and beyond—as she continues to grapple with cultural bias, malignant domestic neglect, poverty, and the damages of racism, yet broadening her palette of social ills to include the privacies of grief, loss and transcendence. A nominee and finalist for Poet Laureate of California, she continues to reflect the ethnic scramble of Los Angeles, where she has been honored by proclamations from the cityÆs elected officials, including the mayorÆs office, the city council and the Department of Cultural Affairs.
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.
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.
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 interpretations. . . . Coleman's aching and meditative poetry gives voice to inquiries and echoes.
Pulses with energy. This vibrant collection . . . offers some excellent poems.
Wanda Coleman was a poet and writer from Los Angeles, California. Her numerous poetry collections included Mercurochrome: New Poems, nominated for the National Book Award; Bathwater Wine, winner of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Ostinato Vamps; and The World Falls Away. She was the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Emmy Award as a writer for Days of Our Lives.