poem index

About this poet

Born in 1967, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is the author of three books of poetry: Red Clay Suite (Southern Illinois University Press, 2007); Outlandish Blues (Wesleyan University Press, 2003); and The Gospel of Barbecue (The Kent State University Press, 2000), which was selected by Lucille Clifton for the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize.

Her work has been anthologized in Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, edited by Sheree R. Thomas (Warner Aspect, 2000); Identity lessons: Contemporary Writing About Learning to Be American edited by Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan (Penguin Books, 1999); At Our Core: Women Writing About Power edited by Sandra Haldeman Martz (Papier-Mache Press, 1998); and Dark Eros edited by Reginald Martin (St. Martin's Press, 1997).

Jeffers has been a resident at the MacDowell Colony and won awards from the Rona Jaffe Foundation for Women Writers and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women. She earned an MFA from the University of Alabama. She now teaches at the University of Oklahoma, where she serves as Associate Professor of English.


Bibliography

Poetry

Red Clay Suite (Southern Illinois University Press, 2007)
Outlandish Blues (Wesleyan University Press, 2003)
The Gospel of Barbecue (The Kent State University Press, 2000)
 

Muse, a Lady Cautioning

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

for Billie Holiday

There's fairness in changing blood for septet's
guardian rhythm, the horn blossoming
into cadenza. No good pimp's scowl, his
baby's voice ruined sweet for the duration.

Yes, these predictable fifths. O, the blues
is all about slinging those low tales out
the back door (sing: child pried open on that
stained floor). O, Billie hollers way down dirt

roads (sing: woman on the verge of needled
logic). She's aware--yeah, I'm going to
kiss some man's sugared fist tonight. O, this
tableau's muse, a Lady cautioning me: 

Just tough this thing out, girl. Sweat through the jones.
Don't ask for nothing.  Spit your last damned note.

From Outlandish Blues by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Copyright © 2003 by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Reproduced by permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Born in 1967, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is the author of multiple books of poetry

by this poet

poem
A Black came in after dinner and sat with the ladies...Lord M...calls her Dido, which I suppose is all the name she has. He knows he has been reproached for showing fondness for her...

        From The Diary and Letters of His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson,
        August 1779
poem

for Phillis Wheatley (c.1753-1784)





                                [amnesiac wood]

[nostrils of girls]	        [who was bought]	        [uncle’s hand]
[guts on the air]	        [who was sold]		[defeated man]
[history’s charnel]	        [i say