Described by African scholar and literary critic Chielozona Eze as “one of the most prolific African poets of the twenty-first century,” Patricia Jabbeh Wesley composed When the Wanderers Come Home during a four-month visit to her homeland of Liberia in 2013.
She gives powerful voice to the pain and inner turmoil of a homeland still reconciling itself in the aftermath of multiple wars and destruction. Wesley, a native Liberian, calls on deeply rooted African motifs and proverbs, utilizing the poetics of both the West and Africa to convey her grief. Autobiographical in nature, the poems highlight the hardships of a diaspora African and the devastation of a country and continent struggling to recover. When the Wanderers Come Home is a woman’s story about being an exile, a survivor, an outsider in her own country and is her cry for the Africa that is being lost in wars across the continent, creating more wanderers and world citizens
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, the author, also wrote 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), She 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. Her poems have also been featured in former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s syndicated newspaper column, “American Life in Poetry.”
Vulnerable in their combination of grief and levity, Wesley’s poems deal with family, community, and war. “What I try to do in my poetry is to show that the artist does not exist in isolation from his surroundings,” Wesley has stated in interviews. Patricia teaches as an Associate Professor at Penn State University.