Praise Song for My Children

New and Selected Poems

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Praise Song for My Children

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Distributed for Autumn House Press

With an Introduction by Matthew Shenoda
240 pages | 5 1/2 x 9 1/4
Paper $18.95 ISBN: 9781938769504 Will Publish March 2020
Praise Song for My Children celebrates twenty-one years of poetry by one of the most significant African poets of this century. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley guides us through the complex and intertwined highs and lows of motherhood and all the roles that it encompasses: parent, woman, wife, sister, friend. Her work is deeply personal, drawing from her own life and surroundings to convey grief, the bleakness of war, humor, deep devotion, and the hope of possibility. These poems lend an international voice to the tales of motherhood, as Wesley speaks both to the African and to the Western experience of motherhood, particularly black motherhood. She pulls from African motifs and proverbs, utilizing the poetics of both the West and Africa to enrich her striking emotional range. Leading us to the depths of mourning and the heights of tender love, she responds to American police brutality, writing “To be a black woman is to be a woman, / ready to mourn,” and remembers a dear friend who is at once “mother and wife and friend and pillar / and warrior woman all in one.”

Wesley writes poetry that moves with her through life, land, and love, seeing with eyes that have witnessed both national and personal tragedy and redemption. Born in Tugbakeh, Liberia and raised in Monrovia, Wesley emigrated to the United States in 1991 to escape the Liberian civil war. In this moving collection, she invites us to join her as she buries loved ones, explores long-distance connection through social media, and sings bittersweet praises of the women around her, of mothers, and of Africa.
Contents
Intro by Matthew Shenoda I Praise Song For My Children (New Poems) Some of Us Are Made of Steel Praise Song for My Children Grace I Saw Men Leaving My Mother Fire and Rain Praise Song for Sister Marie Morais Garber November 12, 2015 The New Year 2018 Holding Back At the Borderline Maybe They Killed a Black Man in Brooklyn Today On September 11 The Unbuckling: A Dirge Too Many Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost After the Election Poem Written from Failed Chat Notes The Meeting Place Poem Written in My Doctor’s Office Suburbia TSA Check The Woman Next Door An Elegy for Art Smith When I meet My Ancestors II from When the Wanderers Come Home (2016) So I Stand Here The Cities We Lost What Took Us to War I Need Two Bodies The Creation Becoming Ghost When Monrovia Rises This is the Real Leaving In My Dream I Want to Be the Woman A Room with A View Losing Hair Hair 2014, My Mamma Never Knew You III from Where the Road Turns (2010) In the Beginning II Biography When the Wanderers Come Home Love Song Before the Sun Goes Down For My Husband After So Many Years So This Is Where the Roads Merge A Memorial for Herb Scott: One Year Later Lover Lost at Sea One Day Ghosts Don’t Go Away Just Like That Where the Road Turned We Departed Our Homelands and We Came The People Walking in Darkness Some Things You Never Stop Looking For Coming Home Step Lightly, God: A Memorial Reburial: To Lament of Drums IV from The River is Rising (2007) The River Is Rising In The Ruined City: A Poem for Monrovia City An Elegy for the St. Peter’s Church Massacred The Morning After: An Elegy Something Death Cannot Know Coming Home When My Daughter Tells Me She Has a Boyfriend Leaving Bringing Closure At Point Loma Monrovia Revisited August 11, 2003 In A Moment When the World Stops After The Memorial While I Wait for the War For Ma Nmano Jabbeh: A Dirge In the Making of a Woman Taboo A Winding Trail Stories Stranger Woman The Women in My Family For Kwame Nkrumah Lamentation After 14 Years Broken World V from Becoming Ebony (2003) In the Beginning I Used to Own the Town Get Out of Here, Boys! Becoming Ebony All the Soft Things of Earth Requiem for Auntie Today is Already Too Much This is What I Tell My Daughter M.T. Turning Thirteen These Are the Reasons the Living Live For My Husband They Want to Rise Up Elegy to West Point Fishermen A Dirge for Charles Taylor Around the Mountains When I Meet Moses Coming Home to Iyeeh We’ve Done It All Wandering Child A Poem for My Father My Neighbors’ Dogs A Letter to My Brother Coming to America My New Insurance Plan The Corrupt Shall Rise Incorruptible I Am Acquainted with Waiting VI from Before The Palm Could Bloom (1998) Africa Tugbakeh: A Song Child Soldier Warrior In Memory of Cousin Hazel: A Dirge Heritage Monrovia Women I’m Still Thinking Outside Child One of These Days When I Get to Heaven Minority Homecoming
Review Quotes
Jim Daniels, author of The Middle Ages
"To have so many of Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s remarkable poems in one volume is like holding a treasure chest or genie’s bottle—objects that are valued but hard to find, objects that once opened or rubbed explode into the world. Like these poems. As a survivor of civil war in Liberia and as a survivor of cancer, she has an exile’s love for the world with all of its limitations and longings, but also its small joys and consolations. She embraces what she can in her protective arms and in these poems. Indeed, she is a woman warrior who tells her truths with force and clarity. She doesn’t have the luxury of mincing her words, and we are all the better for it. Listen up."
 
Kwame Dawes
"Patricia Jabbeh Wesley is unequivocal about the uses of poetry, of her poetry—she is determined to trade in truth, in the power of experience, in the beauty of language to alarm and delight and in the challenge she willingly bears to be an instrument of witness and articulation for her people—for Africa, for women, for the lovers of poetry. In Praise Song for My Children, we encounter a poet at the height of her skills and at the height of her clarity about the world and what things must be spoken into it. But we are blessed to be given an insight into how she arrives at this place of power—it is a remarkable selection of some of the most urgent poems to emerge out of the wars of Liberia. Here is work of incredible joy, deepest lamentation, and necessary hope. It is a sure testament."
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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