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 are affirming poems–songs, truly.
—Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
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.
—Kwame Dawes, author of City of Bones
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s poems resound as the seasoned voice of one of Africa’s most consequential poets, and an expert navigator of the Liberian diaspora’s sojourns in the United States. Praise Song for My Children displays her poetic poise in marshalling deep empathy, keen attention, and courage, unmasking the rawest losses of the war that tore her home asunder. These poems do not flinch at grief, mother-love, survivor’s anguish, and victory over the body’s betrayals. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s own children will recognize her influence on poets gleaning lessons from her craft as she invents new forms confidently adhering to contemporary conventions; marrying the meters of multiple languages; and revealing how to write one’s most intimate home, here Liberia, into the epicenter of what it means to be human. Sing her song, harmonizing the new and the known;read this book!
—Tsitsi Jaji, author of Beating the Graves
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. 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.
—Jim Daniels, author of Birth Marks
Wide as the Atlantic lapping Monrovia’s crumbling shore, Wesley’s wisdom, devotion, and love cut through the unbearable grief of war, abandonment, and loss. Beautifully wrought, Praise Song for My Children is powerful medicine for our troubled times. This book comes from the heart of a mother who brings us all home. May it find its way into every library and classroom in America.
—Pamela Uschuk, author of Blood Flower