In this Book

Becoming Ebony
summary

Recapturing the celebratory voice of Africa in poems that are both contemporary and traditional, Liberian-born Patricia Jabbeh Wesley weaves lyrical storytelling with oral history and images of Africa and America, revealing powerful insights about the relationship between strength and tragedy—and finding reason to celebrate even in the presence of war, difficulties, and death. Rooted in myths that can be traced to the Grebo tradition, Becoming Ebony portrays Liberian-born Wesley’s experiences of village talk and civil war as well as her experiences of the pain of her mother’s death and the difficulties of rearing a family away from home in the United States, and explores the questions of living in the African Diaspora. Turning on the African proverb of “the wandering child” and the metaphor of the ebony tree—which is beautiful in life and death— these poems delve into issues of human suffering and survival, plainly and beautifully chronicling what happens “after the sap is gone.”

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. 1-3
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  1. Title Page
  2. pp. 4-4
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  1. Copyright
  2. pp. 5-7
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. 8-9
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. One
  2. pp. 1-2
  1. My Birth at the Doorpost
  2. pp. 3-3
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  1. I Used to Own This Town
  2. pp. 4-5
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  1. Get Out of Here, Boys!
  2. pp. 6-7
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  1. Requiem for Auntie
  2. pp. 8-10
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  1. Today Is Already Too Much
  2. pp. 11-12
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  1. For Marie Antoinette
  2. pp. 13-14
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  1. Two
  2. pp. 15-16
  1. In the Beginning
  2. pp. 17-18
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  1. This Is What I Tell My Daughter
  2. pp. 19-20
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  1. War Baby
  2. pp. 21-21
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  1. The Moon Poem
  2. pp. 22-22
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  1. They Want to Rise Up
  2. pp. 23-23
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  1. Elegy to West Point Fishermen
  2. pp. 24-24
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  1. Three
  2. pp. 25-26
  1. Coming Home to Iyeeh
  2. pp. 27-27
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  1. A Dirge for Charles Taylor
  2. pp. 28-28
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  1. Around the Mountains
  2. pp. 29-31
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  1. Elegy for Dessie
  2. pp. 32-33
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  1. Transfiguration
  2. pp. 34-34
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  1. When I Meet Moses
  2. pp. 35-36
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  1. For Robert Frost
  2. pp. 37-37
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  1. The Corrupt Shall Rise Incorruptible
  2. pp. 38-40
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  1. We’ve Done It All
  2. pp. 41-41
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  1. The World in Long Lines
  2. pp. 42-42
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  1. All the Soft Things of Earth
  2. pp. 43-43
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  1. Becoming Ebony
  2. pp. 44-46
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  1. Four
  2. pp. 47-48
  1. For My Husband
  2. pp. 49-50
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  1. Wandering Child
  2. pp. 51-53
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  1. Small Desires
  2. pp. 54-55
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  1. When I Rise to Look the Sunshine in Its Bare Eye
  2. pp. 56-57
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  1. A Poem for My Father
  2. pp. 58-59
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  1. In This Town
  2. pp. 60-61
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  1. My Neighbors’ Dogs
  2. pp. 62-63
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  1. A Letter to My Brother Coming to America
  2. pp. 64-64
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  1. My New Insurance Plan
  2. pp. 65-65
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  1. These Are the Reasons the Living Live
  2. pp. 66-66
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  1. M-T, Turning Thirteen
  2. pp. 67-68
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  1. Winter Street
  2. pp. 69-69
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  1. A Snowwoman in Her Dying Hour
  2. pp. 70-71
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  1. I Now Wander
  2. pp. 72-72
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  1. I Am Acquainted with Waiting
  2. pp. 73-74
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  1. Glossary
  2. pp. 75-79
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  1. Other Books in the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry
  2. pp. 80-80
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  1. Back Cover
  2. pp. 81-81
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