Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Ph.D.

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Professor, Creative Writing and African Literature
Office Phone
Office Location
Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts, 125
0125 Misciagna Fam Center
Altoona, PA 16601

Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley is a Liberian civil war survivor who immigrated to the United States with her family in 1991. She is the author of five books of poetry: When the Wanderers Come Home, (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), Where the Road Turns (Autumn House Press, 2010), The River is Rising (Autumn House Press, 2007), Becoming Ebony, (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003) and Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa (New Issues Press, 1998). Her newest book of poems, “Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems” is forthcoming from Autumn House Press in Feb. 2020. She is also the author of a children’s book, In Monrovia, the River Visits the Sea, (One Moore Books, 2012) Her poem, “One Day: Love Song for Divorced Women” was selected by US Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, as an American Life in Poetry June 13, 2011, featured poem. Patricia has won several awards and grants, including 2016 WISE Women Literary Arts Award from Blair County, Pennsylvania, 2011 President Barack Obama Award from the Blair County NAACP in Altoona, PA, the 2010 Liberian Award for her poetry and her mentorship of young Liberians in the Diaspora, a Penn State University AESEDA Collaborative Grant for her research on Liberian Women's Trauma stories from the Civil War, a 2002 Crab Orchard Award for her second book of poems, a World Bank Fellowship, among others. Her poems have been nominated twice for the Pushcart Awards. Her individual poems and memoir articles have been anthologized and published in literary magazines in the US, in South America, Africa, and Europe, and her work has been translated in Spanish Finnish, and Hebrew.

Patricia is a well sought after featured Poet/Poet in Residence and speaker, invited to read her poetry and to give talks across the United States. She has conducted poetry workshops at dozens of universities, grade schools, and at poetry festivals in the United States, in South America, and in parts of Africa. Dozens of her poems have been published in literary magazines and anthologies in the US, Africa, South America, and Europe. She has been a featured guest on NPR and Public TV in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, among others. She has also conducted featured interviews with numerous radio producers, including the BBC Radio (UK), Jamaican Radio, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), and Liberian radio stations, among others. As a Women’s Rights Activist, Patricia has video recorded Liberian women’s stories of trauma from the civil war in several cities in the US, in Liberia, and in the Buduburam Refugee Camp near Accra, Ghana, West Africa. In 2008, she was invited by the Advocates for Human Rights to testify as an expert witness of the Liberian civil war for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC) Hearings in St. Paul, Minnesota. Patricia’s poetry has been extensively reviewed by scholars of literature across the world, including recent reviews in the UK, in the US, Scotland, and in Canada, and her work has generated book chapters by scholars. Reviewers have explored her work’s contribution to gender issues, Africans in the Diaspora, exile, women in war, and Liberia.

Research Interests

Poetry Writing

Memoir and Creative Non-Fiction Writing

Poetry as a Genre

African and African Diaspora Literature

Postcolonial African Literature

World Poetry

African Studies