Honorée Fanonne Jeffers


Honorée Fanonne Jeffers was born in 1967 and grew up in Durham, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia. Her work examines culture, religion, race, and family. Her first book, The Gospel of Barbecue (2000), was selected by Lucille Clifton for the Stan and Tom Wick poetry prize and was a 2001 Paterson Poetry prize finalist. Her subsequent collections include The Age of Phillis (2020); The Glory Gets (2015); Red Clay Suite (2007), which received second prize in the Crab Orchard Review’s open competition; and Outlandish Blues (2003). Jeffers’s work has been anthologized in numerous volumes, including Roll Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art (2002) and These Hands I Know: Writing About the African American Family (2002). Jeffers is also the author of the novel The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois (2021), and she has published fiction in the Indiana Review, the Kenyon Review, the New England Review, and Story Quarterly. She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2011, and in 2018, she won the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year. The recipient of honors from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women, Jeffers teaches creative writing at the University of Oklahoma where she is an associate professor of English. Source


after Margaret Walker’s “For My People”


The Lord clings to my hands

             after a night of shouting.

                           The Lord stands on my roof

             & sleeps in my bed.

Sings the darkened, Egun tunnel—

             cooks my food in abundance,

                           though I was once foolish

             & wished for an emptied stomach.

The Lord drapes me with rolls of fat

             & plaits my hair with sanity.

                           Gives me air,

             music from unremembered fever.

This air


                                         oh that i may give air to my people

                                         oh interruption of murder

                                         the welcome Selah


The Lord is a green, Tubman escape.

             A street buzzing with concern,

                           minds discarding answers.

             Black feet on a centuries-long journey.

The Lord is the dead one scratching my face,

             pinching me in dreams.

                           The screaming of the little girl that I was,

             the rocking of the little girl that I was—

the sweet hush of her healing.

             Her syllables

                           skipping on homesick pink.

             I pray to my God of confused love,

a toe touching blood

             & swimming through Moses-water.

                           A cloth & wise rocking.

             An eventual Passover,

outlined skeletons will sing

             this day of air

                           for my people—


                                         oh the roar of God

                                         oh our prophesied walking





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Faith & Hope

Literary Devices:

After Poems

A poem where the form, theme, subject, style, or line(s) is inspired by the work another poet.


an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line


a short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme

Sensory Detail

words used to invoke the five senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell)