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LIVING IN THE DEEP WEST: In Memory of Wanda Coleman (1946-2013)


Wanda Coleman (1946-2013) in memoriam



 In memory of Wanda Coleman (1946-2013)

SoCal and what you called the Deep West keel

over without you and your defiant signifying.

You skipped right over absinthe, opium, mescaline,

LSD, heroin, orgy and weed to reach the Zone.

You wrote Days of Our Lives, you won an Emmy,

you slid into the Zone on slippery bars of soap

opera, all choruses, no breaks, just one long jes-grew

coda 20 volumes long. In code and flat-out truth,

you logged L.A. behavior hot to cold. In erosong

you sexified her landscape’s dips and swells, her

heavens, her hells. Anything but quiet or quaint,

your pictures in wall-painted language (sliced

between canyons and summits and ridges) stick

to the ribs and to the heart half-free or caged.

Concrete streets and freeways couldn’t always go

the distance or reach the intimacy you loved.

What was a Watts-born woman to do but learn

to boogaloo? Or sail the desert? Or walk the sea?

— Al Young
26 November 2013

© Al Young


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E. Ethelbert Miller: ‘Remembering Wanda Coleman’ | The Nation, November 25, 2013



2 Responses to “LIVING IN THE DEEP WEST: In Memory of Wanda Coleman (1946-2013)”

  1. Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) Says:

    Thank you, Al. And for linking to E. Ethelbert Miller’s reflections. A vivid presence missed.

  2. Claire Ortalda and Floyd Salas Says:

    I can’t believe this — I hadn’t heard. Floyd and I became close to Wanda when we were in LA for Kingpin. She was very welcoming. She invited us to her home several times and on one such occasion mentioned her Emmy. I said, looking around, where is it? And she said, oh, it’s in the closet. I don’t have anyplace to put it. I said, well, you’ve got a stuffed-animal raccoon on your mantelpiece. Perhaps you could make a substitution. But maybe not…Wanda was more about family and people than honors.

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