Wanda Coleman 2002 Interview

June 16, 2018

Wanda Coleman SPLAB Super Bowl of Poetry promotional bookmark

Going through the SPLAB (IPiPP) audio archives thanks to 4Culture, I came across this interview I’d forgotten I had. Wanda Coleman from January 2002, first aired in February 2002. In it she talks about the African-American literary avant garde in the U.S., why such a movement is helpful and why experimental literature suffers in the U.S. because she says that African-American writers are still “too busy, advocating for our status as human beings in this country.” She talked about how universities have “capitulated” to the corporate mindset and lamented the fact that professors make one tenth the salaries of professional athletes. She lamented the quality of dissent in the U.S., and the state of young people given the Columbine tragedy and other events like it. Click here to listen to Wanda, Part 1 – 10:35.

In the second half she read some of her American Sonnets #88, #89, #90, #91 and #94. She talked about their composition and said that she operates “on the Jazz principle” a “way of being in the world” sourced “in Africa as it morphed during the Middle Passage and was brought to America.” A way of survival. She mentioned her essay “On Theloniousism.” Click here to listen to Wanda, Part 2 – 14:58.

Or go right to the part in Part Two where she reads American Sonnets 88-91 and 94 and comments a little about them.


  1. Sara Bingham

    Wow is right. Another GREAT interview I just had the pleasure of listening to, of Wanda Coleman. This makes me immediately want to go on the hunt for more about her and her work; I had heard of her before, but never really had an inkling of her rigor and use of language, which this interview showcases so clearly. THANK YOU!!

  2. Splabman

    Bless you Sara. Thanks for listening.

  3. Cheryl Winchell

    Amen to Sara’s response. Are there audio collections of Wanda reading her poetry available? Thanks. Celestial6500@gmail.com


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