Today I learned that a well-known Los Angeles poet died yesterday morning, Wanda Coleman.While I did not know her personally, I had seen her read once, maybe twice. But the reason I feel an odd kinship toward her is because I did know her mother-in-law. Wanda was married to a man named Austin Straus, and his mother was Roz Straus. Roz was a wonderful little woman who I met around 1995 as part of the OB Poets Circle. She talked lovingly of her husband, Franklin, who had passed. I would visit Roz in her apartment in OB. It was during one of these visits that she told me of her son, Austin, a poet in LA who was married to another poet, Wanda Coleman. I had heard of Wanda, and was tickled to have this tenuous connection.
I’m trying to remember where we were, but I believe I met or accompanied Roz to a reading in LA where her son and Wanda were going to perform. It’s a very vague memory, although I remember the gardens of the library, and feeling like it was too upscale for the kind of poetry I liked. I don’t recall if I met Austin or not, but I’ve always remembered Roz. Unfortunately, we lost touch, and to the best of my knowledge she has passed.
There are many sad poets in LA and across the country tonight. Here’s a write-up from the LA Times that will appear on the front page of the print version tomorrow: