University of Pittsburgh
March 18, 2002

Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series Closes the Season with Poet Wanda Coleman

Contact:  412-624-4147

March 19, 2002

PITTSBURGH—Poet Wanda Coleman will close the University of Pittsburgh Writing Program's Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series (PCWS) season with a free reading at 8:15 p.m. April 4 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, Schenley Drive, in Oakland.

Coleman was raised in the Los Angeles community of Watts, an area known for its August 1965 riot. Following this uprising, she joined several social organizations designed to direct the energies of African American youths into more productive modes. Drawing from her own experiences, Coleman's work often is concerned with the issue of racism, and her poetry frequently portrays the lives of inner city African Americans.

She is the author of "Bathwater Wine" (1998), which won the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, "Hand Dance" (1993), and most recently, "Mercurochrome: New Poems" (2001). Coleman also has written "Mambo Hips and Make Believe: A Novel" (1999), which chronicles the friendship between two aspiring female writers, one from the black ghetto of Los Angeles and the other from LA's white suburbs.

Coleman has received literary fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation for her poetry. She has given readings internationally and is well known for her dramatic performances. In addition to writing poetry, Coleman has worked as a medical secretary, magazine editor, journalist, and scriptwriter. She also hosted The Poetry Connextion with her husband, noted painter and poet Austin Straus, for KPFK radio in Los Angeles.

PCWS is cosponsored by the Wyndham Garden Hotel-University Place, and Pitt's East Asian Studies, The Book Center, Environmental Studies, Environmental Committee of the Student Government Board, and Western Pennsylvania Writing Project.