American poet and author who is best known for works such as Mercurochrome and African Sleeping Sickness. Her later works include The World Falls Away and The Riot Inside Me.
She was raised in Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood by a seamstress mother and an ex-boxer father.
She received a Daytime Drama Emmy Award for her writing.
She had three children and three marriages. Her third marriage was to poet Austin Strauss.
She harshly criticized Maya Angelou's work, A Song Flung Up to Heaven.