Esther Belin in Conversation with Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

June 28, 2022

This week, guest editor Esther Belin speaks with poet and scholar Patricia Jabbeh Wesley. Although Belin’s and Wesley’s homelands are far from each other—Wesley’s in Liberia and Belin’s in Diné bikéyah of the Navajo people—they share a deep commitment to their roles as storytellers, and their writing bears witness to the effects of war and invasion in their homelands. Wesley, who now lives in Altoona, Pennsylvania, is a survivor of the civil war in Liberia. She explains how poetry allows her to tell the truth of that experience while leaving some details unwritten. We’ll hear Wesley’s poem, “Black Woman Selling Her Home in America,” from the June 2022 issue of Poetry, and we’ll also hear her wonderful recipe for self-care (which includes teaching everyone to do their own laundry and sleeping in). 

Content note: Wesley explicitly describes the effects of war including graphic violence against pregnant people.

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