A black woman with braided hair and glasses smiling in front of a bookshelf.

Poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley was born in Monrovia, Liberia, and raised there and in her father’s home village of Tugbakeh, where she learned to speak Grebo in addition to English, the national language. In 1991, Wesley immigrated with her family to southern Michigan to escape the Liberian civil war. She earned a BA at the University of Liberia, an MS at Indiana University, and a PhD at Western Michigan University.

Vulnerable in their combination of grief and levity, Wesley’s poems deal with family, community, and war; as she has said, “what I try to do in my poetry is to show that the artist does not exist in isolation from his surroundings.”

The author of several collections of poetry, including raise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems (2020), When the Wanderers Come Home (2016), Where the Road Turns (2010), The River Is Rising (2007), Crab Orchard Series in Poetry–winner Becoming Ebony (2003), and Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa (1998). Her poems have also been featured in former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s syndicated newspaper column, “American Life in Poetry.”

Additional honors include the Victor E. Ward Foundation Crystal Award for Contributions to Liberian Literature, an Irving S. Gilmore Emerging Artist Grant from the Kalamazoo Foundation, an Art Fund Individual Artist Grant from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, and a World Bank Fellowship.

She lives with her family in west-central Pennsylvania and has taught at Pennsylvania State University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.