cover image Heart First Into This Ruin: The Complete American Sonnets

Heart First Into This Ruin: The Complete American Sonnets

Wanda Coleman. Black Sparrow, $22.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-57423-253-0

In this essential collection of Coleman's signature "American Sonnets," critical poise and dazzling imagery are on resounding display. Coleman throws herself "heart first into this ruin": the ruin of America, of love, and of the body. Relentlessly reinventing the inherited sonnet form, her poems offer a critique of "creative capitalism," "brutal powers," and "this sham world." Each dizzies with imagination and her ever-present wit: "i cannot swim/ and i have been refused a mae west." Jostling between centuries-old language and the intimacy of the colloquial, Coleman becomes a kind of "rebel angel," fully invested in desire and what stands in the way of the heart. A poem after Robert Duncan admits, "o memory. i sweat the eternal weight of graves," while other sonnets ask "toward what" our society travels, and argue against "the killer humdrum of life without fulfillment." Transcending and outlasting eras, Coleman's incisive poems sing out against long-standing inequalities. This complete edition offers an indispensable look at one of the most important and surprising voices in American poetry. (June)