Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Acclaimed Writer
Long-listed for the Nat'l Book Award

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  • An Evening with Honorée Jeffers

Biography

“A Black woman in America, hyper-acutely mindful of her race and gender, has much of interest to share, and when the medium of sharing is skillful poetry, walls come tumbling down.”―Foreword Reviews

“Honorée Jeffers leads with her ear and follows with her rigorous intellect, then adds an emotional depth and fearlessness that make her poems uniquely powerful.”―Elizabeth Alexander

“Thoughtful, inventive, and wise.”―Booklist

For over twenty years, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers has been lifting her voice on issues of Black culture, racism, American history, and gender through the medium of writing. Her most recent collection, The Age of Phillis (Wesleyan, 2020), which was long-listed for the National Book Award in Poetry, nominated for the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry, and a finalist for the 2020 LA Times Book Prize for Poetry, imagines the life and times of poet Phillis Wheatley Peters and the era surrounding her, one that encompassed political, philosophical, and religious upheaval, as well as the transatlantic slave trade. She is also the author of four other critically acclaimed books of poetry, including: The Gospel of Barbecue (Kent State, 2000); Outlandish Blues (Wesleyan, 2003); Red Clay Suite (Southern Illinois, 2007); and The Glory Gets (Wesleyan, 2015), about which Kwame Dawes says, “Her poems—about lynching, lost love, racism, the challenges of being a Black woman are intelligent and sophisticated examinations of very complex issues. The collection is a wonderful wisdom book that is openly vulnerable, uncertain, and yet full of remarkable grace.”

Jeffers is also the author of the novel The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois (Harper Collins, 2021). A Goodreads Most Anticipated Book of the Year, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois follows its protagonist, Ailey, on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors—Indigenous, Black, and white—in the deep South. In doing so, Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story—and the song—of America itself.

Her essays and fiction stories have appeared in Black Renaissance Noire, Callaloo, Common-Place: The Interactive Journal of Early American Life, Indiana Review, New England Review, StoryQuarterly, and Virginia Quarterly Review. And her poetry can be found in the American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, Iowa Review, and Prairie Schooner. Jeffers’ writing has been anthologized in The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks on Race and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. She is the recipient of fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, the Witter Bynner Foundation through the Library of Congress, the Tennessee Williams’ Scholarship in Fiction from the Sewanee Writers Conference, and in 2021, Jeffers was granted a United States Artist Fellowship. She was also the winner of the Emerging Fiction Fellowship from the Aspen Summer Words Conference and recently was honored with the 2018 Harper Lee Award for Literary Distinction, a lifetime achievement award.

A native southerner, Jeffers has lived on the prairie since 2002, where she is a Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma.

Short Bio

For over twenty years, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers has been lifting her voice on issues of Black culture, racism, American history, and gender through the medium of writing. Her most recent collection, The Age of Phillis (2020) was long-listed for the National Book Award in Poetry and nominated for the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry. She is also the author of The Gospel of Barbecue (2000); Outlandish Blues (2003); Red Clay Suite (2007); and The Glory Gets (2015). Jeffers is also a prose writer and author of the forthcoming novel The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois (2021). She is the recipient of fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, the Witter Bynner Foundation through the Library of Congress, and the Tennessee Williams’ Scholarship in Fiction from the Sewanee Writers Conference. She was also the winner of the Emerging Fiction Fellowship from the Aspen Summer Words Conference and recently was honored with the 2018 Harper Lee Award for Literary Distinction, a lifetime achievement award. She is a Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma.

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