Cover Image: Wicked Enchantment

Wicked Enchantment

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Prior to seeing the book cover of Wicked Enchantment, I had never heard of Wanda Coleman, and I have to say I feel somewhat robbed that I did not discover her until after she had died some years ago. The cover drove me to choose the book as it showed a striking image of a Black woman with an afro looking thoughtful.

The introduction, from Terrance Hayes - a fellow poet who was the award winner of the National Book Award for Poetry - gave me a real insight into Wanda and her inspirations. He provided examples from her prose (fiction and non fiction) as well as her interviews.

Despite much of her poetry being written in the 80s and 90s there is something still relevant and timeless about them in the 21st Century - which is also quite saddening. Her poems cover depression, suicide, racism, sexism and 
poverty but all are handled sensitively.

The poems were emotional and poignant. And they definitely painted any pictures in my mind.

The opening poem - Wanda in Worryland definitely sets the tone of what to expect in the book and her last phrase in Moon Cherries “forget my name” is not something that I can do.

Considering this collection was put together posthumously, it would be a delight and insightful to also see them how she intended them - if they are in separate anthologies for example. 

As someone who has made it my mission to read and discover more content from Black creatives whether it is fiction, non fiction as well as poetry I really want to say thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Press UK for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I hope more of us based in the UK can read more of Wanda Coleman’s work.
Was this review helpful?
Wanda Coleman writes as a black woman in 80s/90s America, telling of sexism, racism & poverty. It is sad to see that many of the issues she raises in her poetry are still so relevant 30+ years later.

I've been dipping in and out of this book for many weeks now. Having never previously heard of Wanda Coleman, it is all very new and feels like a great (albeit very late) discovery that I want to pour over and take my time with. A truly great collection.
Was this review helpful?
Wanda Coleman is certainly a unique voice. Her poetry pulls no punches. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her distinctive verse. My favourite was "The Saturday Afternoon Blues" with its memorable line "I'm a candidate for the coroner, a lyric for a song". Truly memorable.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Penguin Press UK for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.

I have decided not to give this collection of poems a rating. This is purely because I am currently in a reading slump and thought that picking this up would help me get out of it. However, this did not happen which is purely my own fault.

I'm needing a quick read to help me out of it and after reading about 30/40 pages, I realised that this is something I want to sit down and really focus on, taking it all in. For this reason, I have out this down temporarily and plan to give a full review and rating after coming back to this once I'm out of my slump.

My temporary rating to be able to submit this review is going to be 4 stars after what I did read.
Was this review helpful?
First of all, I'd like to say thank you to Netgalley for giving me the chance to read this book.

I have to admit that this is the first time I’ve heard about Wanda Coleman, but after reading this collection of selected poems I will definitely read more of her work in the future!
This collection of poems is strikingly and sadly very relevant today, though written in the 80s and 90s. The poems are brave, bold, gritty, funny, deep, flippant, historic and contemporary all at once. 

There’s so much to unpack on these poems, so if you pick up this book, my advice is to take your time with it.

This will be the first book published by Wanda Coleman in the UK, so I would definitely recommend to read it if you are interested in poetry.

Several trigger points in this book; racism, suicidal thoughts, sexism and sexual content.
Thank you to Penguin Press UK and Netgalley for an eARC of this book in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you, NetGalley for this ARC!

This book is a collection of Wanda Coleman's poems. While this is not normally the sort of poetry I read and I didn't really understand a great deal of it, I got a sense of Wanda's anger at the way people of color, (and of course, women of color) were being treated in the united states. I don't think the ebook suited me, but I also do think its worth investing in a print edition.
Was this review helpful?
This is an amazing book and like many great books it has at its heart a mystery. 
And that mystery is why in 30-odd years of reading (I had thought) pretty extensively in poetry I had never heard of Wanda Coleman, although the answer is depressingly obvious when you give it more than a second’s thought. Because this is one of the most accomplished, most powerful collections you’re ever likely to find.
In his introduction to the volume, Terrance Hayes identifies Bukowski as a central influence on Coleman, one which she acknowledges. But I would argue that it’s a limited comparison. It’s there, to be sure, but I’d say that Coleman for the most part is the better poet and has certainly transcended the egomania and empty(ish) hedonism of much of Bukowski’s work. 
Because the keynote of much of Coleman’s work — as most commentators have pointed out is — rage. Not anger, but rage. It’s a word you’ll see time and again in these poems. But it’s important to contextualise just what we’re talking about here. We’re not talking about petulance, or self-pity, or self-justification. We’re talking about an entirely (often brutally) honest and entirely justified sense of rage. At everything from social injustice to the psycho-sexual dynamics of modern relationships. Hers is a world of almost perpetual economic instability and the constant threat of police harassment.
But while commentators are correct to highlight the aspect of righteous anger in Coleman’s work, there’s far more to delve into. For one thing, she is clearly engaged with the general corpus of recent (and not so recent) poetry and with the act of writing itself. She directly engages with the work and style of numerous poets from Rilke to Ginsberg to even Lewis Carroll. Her sequence of Essays on Language too take a no-bullshit scalpel to questions of the tyrannies and contradictions of the written and spoken word.
Coleman is also what I’d call a musical poet. All poets are to some extent, of course but it’s a more direct influence here than in many others and much of her work is deeply absorbed in the rhythms of jazz, soul and blues. It’s most obvious in pieces like Nocturne and The Saturday Afternoon Blues but it permeates a great many of her poems. It probably at least contributes to the sense of Coleman being a kind of spiritual descendant of some of the better Beats. 
She is a very playful poet and it’s easy to overlook the great amount of wicked humour evident in her work. Again, this can be literal but it also manifests in her clever experimentation with form and structure. Many of the poems in Wicked Enchantment are in free verse, although Coleman more than once shows an easy command of more traditional form when she is so inclined. The centrepiece of the book (for me) is the sequence of American Sonnets and these range in both subject and form from the relatively traditional to the stretching of the form to its extremes.
I find myself very grateful to have finally discovered Wanda Coleman and this collection is the perfect introduction to those new to her work. It’s not just a recommended read, I’d say, but an essential one.
Was this review helpful?
Poems by Wanda Coleman on her life on the margins... 

Wicked Enchantment has 130 of Wanda’s poems which are a mixture of being funny, angry, and getting to the point. 

Perfect for readers who enjoy poetry.
Was this review helpful?
I have to admit that this is the first time I’ve heard about Wanda Coleman, but after reading this collection of selected poems I will definitely read more of her work in the future! 

This is a very personal selection, she captures moments of her life and talks about issues such as racism, sexism, and poverty. I love the way the poems are written. All of them are powerful, heartbreaking and honest. My original plan was to read this collection in a couple of days, but I found myself keep going back to them and re-reading them to process everything that she packs into these works. It is so well written, full of emotions and feels passionate. 
There’s so much to unpack on these poems, so if you pick up this book, my advice is to take your time with it.  

This will be the first book published by Wanda Coleman in the UK, so I would definitely recommend to read it if you are interested in poetry.
Was this review helpful?
I am ashamed to say that I had not heard of Wanda Coleman before this eArc popped up on NetGalley. However, I was immediately interested, and after being approved I devoured this in two sittings. It's heartbreaking, it's beautiful, and the poems truly feel like a capture of the life Coleman wanted us to hear about. I was transported to wherever she wanted to take me in every single poem, and almost every poem left me wanting more in the best way possible. Truly, this collection took my breath away and I cannot recommend it enough. It's sad, though, to see that the majority of the political poems still ring true today just as they did when they were written. Coleman writes, in one of the poems, 'born to drudge to mule to leave no legacy,' and I'm happy to report that she was not the slightest bit in the right - this is a legacy worth holding on to, and I hope she is paid the respects she deserves after this is published.
Was this review helpful?
Wicked Enchantment is a collection of poems from the 'unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles' Wanda Coleman. This is the first UK publication of Coleman's work, and after reading this amazing collection it is difficult to believe this is the case. Coleman's poetry really lifts of the page all through this collection. You feel every experience and emotion which she documents throughout, and whilst reading it's not difficult to come to the conclusion that Wanda Coleman loved writing. The passion which feeds through these pages is infectious. After reading this I will definitely be looking out for more of Coleman's work. 
This is a beautifully curated bind up of Wanda Coleman's work, and it is enough for anyone to instantly love her style, essence and imagination.
Was this review helpful?
Wicked Enchantment is a collection of selected poems by Wanda Coleman, a Black American poet born in Los Angeles in 1946. The poems are gritty and sharp, reflecting on her daily life and wider problems like racism, poverty, and law enforcement, and they feel immediate, at times in a stream of consciousness style. As she's not been widely published in the UK before, the collection also introduces her and her life, and provides a great way to discover her writing. 

I hadn't read any of her poetry before and these ones were powerful and cutting, the kind you need to return to and read again and fully take in. The minute details of her life are combined with wit and wider commentary, and even some comments on poetry itself. A note at the end states that she carefully ordered the poems in her books, and it would be interesting to see these poems in context, as is often the case when you read a selection of poems that span a poet's life.
Was this review helpful?