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Outlandish Blues

Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

Publication Year: 2003

Fierce and sensual, the poems in Outlandish Blues merge everyday speech with a shimmering lyricism and burst from the page into song. Honoree 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.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Gratitude first and always to the Creator, from Whom all words and life descend, and to the ancestors for watching over. To my family: Trellie James Jeffers, Valjeanne Jeffers Thompson, Sidonie Jeffers, Toussaint Thompson, Gabrielle Thompson, and Mikail Thompson. ...

I

Fast Skirt Blues: for V.

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pp. 3-4

Muse, a Lady Cautioning: for Billie Holiday

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p. 5-5

The Battered Blues (Four Movements)

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pp. 6-10

Don’t Know What Love Is

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p. 11-11

Worn Blues Refrain

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p. 12-12

Pantoum for a Black Man on a Greyhound Bus

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pp. 13-14

Think of James Brown Pleading: for Michael Datcher

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pp. 15-16

II

Sarai Gives Hagar the Egyptian to Abram

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p. 19-19

Hagar’s Night with Abram

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p. 20-20

Sarai Waits for the Birth of Hagar's Son

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p. 21-21

Hagar to Sarai

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p. 22-22

Sarah Overhears the Three Angels Telling Abraham God Will Destroy Sodom

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p. 23-23

The Wife of Lot Before the Fire

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pp. 24-25

The Wife of Lot Has a Premonition of Her Death

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pp. 26-27

The Wife of Lot Witnesses Her Husband Offering Their Two Daughters to Sodom’s Crowd

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p. 28-28

The Wife of Lot After the Fire

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pp. 29-30

The Two Daughters of Lot After the Fire

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pp. 31-32

Sarah Gives Birth to Isaac

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p. 33-33

Sarah Confronts Abraham over Hagar

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p. 34-34

Hagar in the Wilderness

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pp. 35-36

III

The Book of Alabama: Chapter Coltrane / for Michael S. Harper

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p. 39-39

Five Note Range of Sorrow: for Alvin Ailey's Revelations

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p. 40-40

Day Clean: for Natasha

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pp. 41-42

Outlandish Blues (The Movie)

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pp. 43-44

Now with the Morning: for James Baldwin and Billy Jack Gaither

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p. 45-45

Incident at Cross Plains (The Lynching of William Luke, 1870)

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p. 46-46

Unidentified Female Student, Former Slave (Talladega College, circa 1885)

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p. 47-47

Confederate Pride Day at Bama (Tuscaloosa, 1994)

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p. 48-48

Aretha at Fame Studios

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pp. 49-50

Notes

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pp. 51-52


E-ISBN-13: 9780819572486
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819565839

Page Count: 72
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: Wesleyan Poetry Series