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Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley was born in Tugbakeh, Maryland County, Liberia (West Africa), and grew up in Monrovia. From 1983 to 1985, she studied at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where she earned a Master of Science degree in English Education. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley has her PhD in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Her poems have appeared in the Crab Orchard Review, The Cortland Review, The New Orleans Review, the anthology New Sister Voices (SIU press), and elsewhere.

Also by Patricia Jabbeh Wesley


Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa

Before the Palm Could Bloom:  Poems of AfricaBefore the Palm Could Bloom:
Poems of Africa

$12.00 paper | 86 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-932826-64-0
Publication Date: Nov. 1998
Buy: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | ShopWMU | UPNE

An Inland Seas Poetry Book

In Before the Palm Could Bloom, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley writes poems of the Liberian civil war and of the devastation it has wrought: 200,000 dead –– including 50,000 children –– and 750,000 citizens forced to take refuge in neighboring countries. And in poems of village life and customs, the city life of Monrovia, the rites of childhood and adolescence, Wesley records for the reader a world that has been forever changed. Wesley's poems incorporate many African voices, and range in tone from sorrow and longing, to humor and ironic wit. Wesley teaches African literature and other subjects at colleges in southwestern Michigan, where she now lives with her husband and four children.

"Wesley brings us frontline poetic reportage in Before the Palm Could Bloom, her first collection. Many of the voices in this book speak only here."
        —Publishers Weekly Nov. 2, 1998

"This book is a tour-de-force testament to the responsibility of writer to witness. …She balances the horrors of the Liberian Civil War, from 1989 to 1996—child soldiers and atrocities, almost a quarter million dead, three quarter million refugees—against the pastoral legacy of Liberian Life."
        —Vince Gotera, North American Review


Monrovia Women

Monrovia women . . .
Here they come!
You see their colorful faces
before you know their hearts.
Shining, red lips, red cheeks,
painted eyelids and lashes.
Perhaps they would like
to paint their pupils, too!
Their eyebrows take to various routes
to suit their longing hearts.

Aye, Monrovia women . . .
Look at their necks!
You could build a mansion
from jewelry a single woman wears.
Sometimes, like Indians,
their noses wear gold rings,
while their ears themselves
wear several others too.

You have yet to see their hands . . .
Long nails painted
to match the various hues
their eyes and cheeks wear.
Fingers held apart
by heavy gold rings.
Oh, you should see them
walking down the road.

Monrovia women . . .
In evening gowns and dresses,
lappa suits and costly coats,
on their way to work.
You should see them at work!
They nurse and paint their nails all day,
and guide their skirts from hooking
on to a rustic nail.

Monrovia women . . .
Strolling in the humid sun
in high, expensive shoes.
If you would stop
to ask their toes
how much fun it really is,
walking in such heels,
I’m sure you’d say aye-yah,
for our poor Monrovia women.