Root-wise, soulful poems reinvent the domestic and spiritual spheres.
Winner of the Harper Lee Award (2018)
Fierce and sensual, the poems in Outlandish Blues merge everyday speech with a shimmering lyricism and burst from the page into song. Honorée Fanonne Jeffers sees the blues, what she terms the "shared 'blue notes,''' as an important intersection between the secular and the divine, and between the various African American vernacular traditions, from spirituals to jazz. Part Nina Simone, part Bessie Smith, her poems are filled with a sweaty honesty, moving from the personal to the collective experience. This movement is often accomplished through the use of personae, concentrated here in a stunning series of poems on the Biblical figures of Hagar and Sarah. Whether about a contemporary domestic scene, a slave ship, or Aretha Franklin, these are poems that speak to the soul of experience.
"I am struck by the boldness of this poetry, the musicality, and the sense of historical and spiritual matters. This is a powerful new voice."~Cynthia Hogue, author of The Never Wife
"Outlandish Blues is a book as wide-open-armed and as terrifying as the blues themselves. What violence and grief, and sweetness too! These poems will bring you to your knees with their tough, wild beauty."~Maggie Anderson, author of Windfall: New and Selected Poems
"The Age of Phillis illuminates an unbroken lineage, the way one poet pays homage to another and keeps the continuum for which we are all indebted. This is a necessary and visceral book, that brings to life the fullness of Wheatley."