Becoming Ebony by Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
(Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry)

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Recapturing the celebratory voice of Africa in poems that are both contemporary and traditional, Liberian-born Patricia Jabbeh Wesley weaves lyrical storytelling with oral history and images of Africa and America, revealing powerful insights about the relationship between strength and tragedy—and finding reason to celebrate even in the presence of war, difficulties, and death. Rooted in myths that can be traced to the Grebo tradition, Becoming Ebony portrays Liberian-born Wesley’s experiences of village talk and civil war as well as her experiences of the pain of her mother’s death and the difficulties of rearing a family away from home in the United States, and explores the questions of living in the African Diaspora. Turning on the African proverb of “the wandering child” and the metaphor of the ebony tree—which is beautiful in life and death— these poems delve into issues of human suffering and survival, plainly and beautifully chronicling what happens “after the sap is gone.”


About Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

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Patricia Jabbeh Wesley was born in Tugbakeh, Maryland County, Liberia, and grew up in Monrovia. She is the author of Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa, which retells her experiences in the Liberian civil war. Her work has appeared in The Cortland Review, Crab Orchard Review, Midday Moon, and New Orleans Review. She lives with her husband and children in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she teaches creative writing and African Literature at Western Michigan University.
Published March 12, 2003 by Southern Illinois University Press. 96 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Part of the strength of this collection is that it does not allow itself to wallow in the bleakness of this sentiment, but instead confronts and examines the power of death and suffering: "The mysteries of this world are not in the living./ The mysteries of this world are in the dead cold of/ dea...

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