“In her fourth and most accomplished collection, Jeffers turns to the task of seeking and reconciling the blues and its three movements—identification, exploration, and resolution—with wisdom. It’s a deft, lyrical meditation on blues, womanhood, and beyond.”—Alex Crowley, Publishers Weekly
A deft, lyrical meditation on blues, womanhood, and beyond
In her three previous, award-winning collections of blues poetry, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers has explored themes of African American history, Southern culture, and intergenerational trauma. Now, in her fourth and most accomplished collection, Jeffers turns to the task of seeking and reconciling the blues and its three movements—identification, exploration, and resolution—with wisdom. Poems in The Glory Gets ask, “What happens on the road to wisdom? What now in this bewildering place?” Using the metaphor of “gets”—the concessional returns of living—Jeffers travels this fraught yet exhilarating journey, employing unexpected improvisations while navigating womanhood. The spirit and spirituality of her muse, the late poet Lucille Clifton, guide the poet through the treacherous territories other women have encountered and survived yet kept secret from their daughters. An online reader’s companion will be available.
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Reviews / Endorsements
“Honoree Fanonne Jeffers’ The Glory Gets demonstrates why she is one of America’s most gifted voices in poetry. With daring and solemnity, she gathers us in her wise embrace and uses her poetry to teach us how to become better human beings. She is not afraid to cause discomfort in the process as she tells the story of racism in America … She is a genius with a conscience.”—Sonja James, The Journal
“Thoughtful, inventive, and wise, Jeffers produces poems that pay off because she seems always to offer something to open to, something to learn.”—Janet St. John, Booklist
“A black woman in America, hyper-acutely mindful of her race and gender, has much of interest to share, and when the medium of sharing is skillful poetry, walls come tumbling down.”—Matt Sutherland, Foreword Reviews
“The Glory Gets is filled with profound religious feeling, but there are no facile certainties here. This is a faith that questions, wrestling with the world’s anguish. This spiritual honesty and intensity light the book from within.”—Vuyelwa Carlin, Poetry Salzburg Review
“In The Glory Gets, Jeffers reminds us that very often ‘catharsis is not healing.’ Her poems—about lynching, lost love, racism, the challenges of being a black woman—are never simple, formless rants or indulgent confessionals, but witty, intelligent and sophisticated examinations of very complex issues. The collection is a wonderful wisdom book that is openly vulnerable, uncertain, and yet full of remarkable grace.”—Kwame Dawes, author of Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems
“There is a clear emotional progression in The Glory Gets that expresses the poet’s gifts at their full power. Reading these poems, we travel from the historical trauma to the manifestation of that trauma in our relationships. This progression shows a new complexity in Jeffers’s oeuvre.”—A. Van Jordan, author of The Cineaste
“This book is a miracle. The wisdom and the courage in these poems cuts straight into me. Jeffers is wrestling with what I thought I’d learned to put over there and call History, and she brings it back over here where I stand. It is alive. It watches me. How much of what we are and what we run from is caught—held, trapped, but also illuminated—by that gaze? These poems make clear how much we turn our backs to, trying to forget. This poet sings it beautifully and brutally back into being.”—Tracy K. Smith
From the Book:
After you are cleaned of your slick outfit,
you will scar down the seam of your mind
and grow tight-packed stones beneath your skin.
Nothing dissolves. No one will explain.
Daily you will search for real meaning
in constant death and sundry nonsense
but no meaning will take place—damn it.
You might give in and commence to pray
and God might visit and drink your tea,
but The Holy One won’t stay for long—
you won’t see whether this mystery
wears a flowered dress or tailored pants.
Your mother will give you her big pot
to stir, though you didn’t ask for that.
She will tell you cooking heavy meals
will bring you immeasurable joy.
You will know she’s telling you a lie.
You will cut your woman’s eyes at her—
your enemy, another woman,
another convict, one more conflict.
You will hate her for pushing you through
her narrow door into a cramped room.
You will grow wise: your mother was born
only the day before you were born—
and no woman ever really dies.
You will thank her for her cooking pot—
gratitude, another betrayal.
- Winner of the Harper Lee Award (2018)
HONORÉE FANONNE JEFFERS is the author of three previous books of poetry: The Gospel of Barbecue, Outlandish Blues, and Red Clay Suite. Her poems have appeared widely in anthologies and journals such as Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, Kenyon Review, and Iowa Review. She is an associate professor of English at the University of Oklahoma, and this is her fourth book of poetry.
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