Liberia’s Poet Laureate, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, to present at Shenango

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley Headshot

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley is professor of English, creative writing and literature at Penn State Altoona.

Credit: Penn State

SHARON, Pa. — Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, the inaugural Poet Laureate for the Republic of Liberia and professor of English at Penn State Altoona, will present at Penn State Shenango at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21.

Wesley immigrated to the United States with her family during the 14-year Liberian civil war, an experience that shaped her writing as an African Diaspora woman writer through themes such as the plight of the refugee of war, African femininity, motherhood, home, displacement, and the survivor as witness.

She is the author of six critically acclaimed books of poetry including, “Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems,” “When the Wanderers Come Home,” “Where the Road Turns,” “The River is Rising,” and “Becoming Ebony.” Wesley was also the editor of “Breaking the Silence: Anthology of Liberian Poetry.”

Wesley’s poetry has been recognized with many awards and accolades, including the 2023 Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize for her sixth book of poems, “Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems,” the 2022 Levinson Prize from Poetry Foundation, and the 2021 Edward Stanley Award from Prairie Schooner, among others. African scholar and literary critic Chielozona Eze describes Wesley as “one of the most prolific African poets of the twenty-first century.”

In 2023, Wesley was commissioned as the inaugural Poet Laureate of her homeland, and read her poem, “Liberia, Mother of Our Mothers’ Mothers,” at the inauguration of President Joseph N. Boakai on Jan. 22, 2024, in Monrovia, Liberia.

The poetry reading event on March 21 is being held in Lecture Hall room 223 on the Shenango campus at 147 Shenango Ave. in Sharon and is free and open to the public.

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