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Outlandish Blues
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2003 • 72 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6584-6
$12.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7248-6

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

Root-wise, soulful poems reinvent the domestic and spiritual spheres.

Fierce and sensual, the poems in Outlandish Blues merge everyday speech with a shimmering lyricism and burst from the page into song. Honorée Fanonne Jeffers sees the blues, what she terms the “shared ‘blue notes,’’’ as an important intersection between the secular and the divine, and between the various African American vernacular traditions, from spirituals to jazz. Part Nina Simone, part Bessie Smith, her poems are filled with a sweaty honesty, moving from the personal to the collective experience. This movement is often accomplished through the use of personae, concentrated here in a stunning series of poems on the Biblical figures of Hagar and Sarah. Whether about a contemporary domestic scene, a slave ship, or Aretha Franklin, these are poems that speak to the soul of experience.

Reviews / Endorsements

“I am struck by the boldness of this poetry, the musicality, and the sense of historical and spiritual matters. This is a powerful new voice.”—Cynthia Hogue, author of The Never Wife

Outlandish Blues is a book as wide-open-armed and as terrifying as the blues themselves. What violence and grief, and sweetness too! These poems will bring you to your knees with their tough, wild beauty.”Maggie Anderson, author of Windfall: New and Selected Poems

From the Book:

I want to teach you the pigmeat
story this evening. I’m an angel
stabbed by the point I dance on.

I need the sanctified blues.
I need the hallelujah nasty.
Take me there.
I don’t care where we go.

—from “Fast Skirt Blues”


Winner of the Harper Lee Award (2018)

HONOREÉ FANONNE JEFFERS is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma and the author of The Gospel of Barbecue (2000), for which she received the Wick Poetry Prize.

Thu, 6 Sep 2018 11:04:37 -0500