Wanda Coleman wrote 20 books of poetry and prose, focusing much of her work on the racism and poverty in Los Angeles. Never one to shy away from controversy her work often portrayed violence and centered around human pain. Coleman wrote with an unflinching eye about what it was like to be a poor, black woman in America. Mad Dog Black Lady (1979) and Imagoes (1983) earned her a National Endowment for the Arts grant (1981-82) and a Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry (1984). Coleman wrote in many genres, including short stories, novels, journalism, and for T.V. Her 1998 poetry collection Bathwater Wine received the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the first given to a work by an African American woman. Coleman died in 2013 following a long illness.