I would like to write a longer post and talk about the times I spoke with Wanda Coleman that were all too brief. Instead, I wanted to share my letter of support since her widow Austin Strauss is advocating for a branch of the Los Angeles Public Library to be named after her. You can email comments to Raquel Borden at rborden@lapl.org TODAY to express your support. I’ve included my letter of support below.


Dear Raquel,

I am writing to you because I want to express my heartfelt, enthusiastic support for naming a Los Angeles Public Library branch after the late lifelong L.A. resident Wanda Coleman. As an emerging poet, her work deeply inspired me and she was so generous with her time when I visited Los Angeles that I saw her as a sort of ambassador for the city.

Beyond that, Wanda Coleman was a prolific writer and published so many books in her lifetime and embodied the experiences of the region in a powerful way. When I describe her work, I often say that Wanda Coleman’s poetry does what Charles Burnett’s films do for Los Angeles. Both Coleman and Burnett offer a compelling, well-crafted, and under-recognized perspective of life and the pervasive moods of Los Angeles.

By naming this library after her, you would honor Coleman’s legacy in a long-term way that extends beyond the accolades that she garnered in life and make her name more visible in the city that she loved deeply. She supported libraries since her childhood, and as a gifted writer and contributor to the American literary culture, I hope that the Board of Library Commissioners will see fit to do the same.
Tara Betts, Ph.D.
Binghamton University


The Next Big Thing

by Tara on February 13, 2013

I felt so flattered to be tagged by two stellar poets: Kendra DeColo is working on her manuscript Crooked Hope. Annie Finch posted about her new book, SPELLS.

What is your working title of your book (or story)? The working title for my second book is called BREAK THE HABIT.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The day before my divorce was issued, I stayed overnight in Brooklyn with a friend, who happened to have an apartment directly across the street from a methadone clinic. I just kept thinking about how love is an attachment, a habit where we willingly participate and it is often good. At other times, we are so addicted to the idea of love that it debilitates us. So, the poems started there.

What genre does your book fall under? Poetry

What songs would be in the soundtrack for your book?
“Chamber” by Ka
Cassandra Wilson’s cover of “Love Is Blindness”
D’Angelo’s cover of “She’s Always In My Hair”
“Fix” by Blackstreet, Fishbone, Slash, and O.D.B.
“What You Do To Me” by BlakRoc
Adele’s 21
“Thank You” by Estelle
Bon Iver’s rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me”
“I’d Rather Be With You” and “What’s a Telephone Bill” by Bootsy Collins
“Ghetto Rock” by Mos Def
“Ooh Ahh” by Divinity Roxx
“Bright Lights” by Gary Clark Jr.
J. Dilla’s Donuts
“The The Empty” by Le Tigre
Al Green’s Greatest Hits
“Letting Go” by Lupe Fiasco
Robert Glasper’s Black Radio
Salaam Remi’s “Bad Man Waltz”
Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
One woman approaches loss and reclaiming her self with poems about spiders, Marvin Gaye, wedding dresses, and starting over.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will be submitting the manuscript for open readings and prizes.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’m still working on it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Blowout by Denise Duhamel. Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds. The Terrible Stories by Lucille Clifton.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My father’s passing and my divorce, but I’d also say a spider that inhabited my front porch from August-December 2012.

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest? Other than a poem that explores spider sex? I would say a pervasive sense of hope and finding what is precious in a single breath.

My tagged writers are:
Latasha N. Nevada Diggs
Yona Harvey
Airea Dee Matthews
Rachel McKibbens
Kamilah Aisha Moon
Nikki Patin


Spring 2013 Update

by Tara on February 8, 2013

I have not blogged here in a long time, but I want to renew this practice, so I’m at least posting here once a week. Writing has always been a lifeline for me. I will be ever grateful for that. One of the other things besides writing that I am delving into is my third semester of coursework in a Ph.D. program. Thank you to the amazing people who have been sending me encouraging notes and just letting me know that I have welcoming space in their world. There are too many people to name here, but I know I did not get this far alone.

In other news, I will be presenting at the 2013 CCCC Conference in Las Vegas and the upcoming AWP Conference in Boston. In April, the libretto that I’m working on for Peggy Choy Dance Company will be mounted at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. The where and when are posted in the Events here.

I’m not doing many readings, but I will probably do a few in the New York City area this summer. I will be running a 6-week workshop at Poets House. There may be other NYC workshops in the making. In short, a lot of steps are being taken, and maybe you can join me for part of the walk.


Tara Betts at Kentucky Women Writers Conference

by Tara on September 12, 2012

Before I offer the quick update, I wanted to share my excitement for the upcoming Kentucky Women Writers Conference. Lots of contemporary writers that I admire have presented there in the past, and I’ll be there with writers like Kim Addonizio, Ruth Reichl, dream hampton, and others! I’m also excited to see Bianca Spriggs again! I’ll post photos and an update when I return.

So, I’m starting my second semester in a Ph.D. program, and it’s shaping up to be a full semester. I’m taking three courses-The African Novel, Intro to Sound Studies, and Creative Nonfiction. I’ll be tutoring in Binghamton University’s Writing Center for a few hours every week and co-facilitating a poetry workshop at the Binghamton YWCA with Nicole Santalucia and Molly Goldblatt in October and November. I’m doing two readings in NYC this fall on October 19 and November 18 too. Mostly, I’ll be reading and writing, and the writing keeps coming. I will also be reading as a Poetry Editor for Radius Lit again, and I am digging in to work with Harpur Palate, a literary journal at Binghamton University.


Arc & Hue

November 28, 2011

See larger image

Arc & Hue

New From:
$15.00 USD In Stock

A debut poetry collection.

Read the full article →

Tara & Terrance in MD.

October 10, 2011

I haven’t been blogging as much as I would have liked in 2011, and I’m hoping to change that. I just did one of my last readings for the year in Columbia, MD, where I shared the stage with Terrance Hayes as part of HoCoPoLitSo’s (Howard County Poetry & Literary Society’s) inaugural reading for the […]

Read the full article →

After Troy Davis’ Last Hours

September 21, 2011

I needed to write something to clear my head before trying to sleep. I feel deeply hurt by the denial of a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court. I’ve been involved in many death penalty protests and several protests against specific cases. This one held open a window that made me feel as if this […]

Read the full article →

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes + Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

June 20, 2011

I wanted to blog about something topical today since the news is irritating me, but I decided to make some cupcakes-vegan cupcakes at that.
Some of the ingredients are a bit more expensive, but I definitely feel that the food is a bit more guilt free. The recipe is a slight variation from Vegan Cupcakes […]

Read the full article →

About Rain…

June 17, 2011

It’s been raining off and on all day. I can look out of the window and part of the sky is whitish gray and the other half of the sky is blue with clouds. The rain is coming in starts and stops as my keys mimic the cadence of Art Blakey’s “Sportin’ Crowd” so […]

Read the full article →

Book Review: Diwata by Barbara Jane Reyes

June 16, 2011

I wanted to share this review that I wrote of Barbara Jane Reyes’ Diwata since the book is worth checking out. If you haven’t, maybe this book will share enough about the poems to pique your interest.

DIWATA, Barbara Jane Reyes, BOA Editions, www.boaeditions.org, 2010, 84 pages, $16.00 paper
Barbara Jane Reyes’ third poetry collection Diwata […]

Read the full article →