African Sleeping Sickness: Stories & Poems

Title: African Sleeping Sickness: Stories & Poems

Author: Wanda Coleman

Publisher: Black Sparrow Press

Publication Year: 1990

ISBN: 0876858124

Coleman, one of the decade's most moral poets, depicts feverishly focused first- and third-person dramatic monologues of the grim life of L.A.'s streets. It's impossible to paraphrase her colloquial, dynamic style: where I live / the little gangsters diddy-bop through and pick up / young bitches and flirt with old ones, looking to / snatch somebody's purse or find their way into somebody's / snatch 'cause mama don't want them at home and papa / is a figment and them farms them farms them farms / they call schools, and mudflapped bushy-headed entities / swoop the avenue seeking death / it's the only thrill left / where I live. Understanding does not mean, to Coleman, mild forgiveness, it means hot rage against those of any color who prey on others in pain. Contextualizing murder, rape, poverty, addiction showing us their human faces gives Coleman a 'shattered heart,' makes her feel 'thrown heart first into this ruin,' but the experience transforms the reader.

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