Aubade for West African History by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

      O, Africa, where I baked my bread. . .
Lance Jeffers

My flesh song,
a growing plot of womb.
A woman’s life mere and
common if she is blessed.
Chickens gossiping in the courtyard.
Hungry children taught
the languages of millet and yam.
Some days cultivated pepper—
discord with my husband
or my co-wives.

History, I greet you
with the words of lovers.
How I miss you!
How I crave you—
such joy to release
suffering in the light!
So much scattered in the deluge,
dusty specks washed away,
but I do know
there were many years
until we tasted bread.



Click here for PDF. 


Contributor Notes

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is a poet, fiction writer, literary and cultural critic, and the author of three books of poetry, The Gospel of Barbecue (2000); Outlandish Blues (Wesleyan University Press, 2003); and Red Clay Suite (Southern Illinois University Press, 2007).

Honorée has received several awards for her writing, including an award from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Witter Bynner Foundation through the Library of Congress. Her poems have appeared in African American Review, American Poetry Review, Black Renaissance Noire, Blues Poems (Random House, 2003), Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz and Literature, Callaloo, The Civil Rights Reader (University of Georgia, 2009), The Gettysburg Review, The Kenyon Review, The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink (Bloomsbury, 2012), Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner and Ploughshares, among others.

She is at work on two separate books of poetry: In The Glory Gets, Honorée turns to the business of wisdom. Using the metaphors of “gets”—the concessional returns of living—she travels the interconnected legs of the journey to womanhood. Her other project, The Age of Phillis, is a book of historical poetry imagining the life and times of Phillis Wheatley, the eighteenth-century, Revolutionary-Era poet who was the first black American woman to publish a book; for the extensive research for this second project, Honorée traveled to Senegal, the United Kingdom, and throughout New England (USA), and her NEA Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society Fellowship, and the Vermont Studio Center Fellowship were awarded in support of The Age of Phillis. She has published several poems from each of her two manuscripts-in-progress.

A native Southerner, Honorée now lives on the prairie where she has taught creative writing at the University of Oklahoma since 2002; she is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing Coordinator. 
Visit Honorée’s full author website: