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Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Born in 1967, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is the author of multiple books of poetry...
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Chorus of the Mothers-Griot

by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

for Phillis Wheatley (c.1753-1784)

                                [amnesiac wood]

[nostrils of girls]	        [who was bought]	        [uncle’s hand]
[guts on the air]	        [who was sold]		[defeated man]
[history’s charnel]	        [i say] 	                [trader’s silver]

                                [sailing knot to knot]

[naked in the corner]	[door of no return]	[sing the mutiny]
[in the slave house]	[sniff bougainvillea]	[who stands ashamed]
[i say]		 	[ready dawn’s kill]	        [naked in the corner]

                                [jealous sharks]

[i shall]			[who did]		        [i say]
[they did]		        [i’m here]		        [my name]
[who shall]		        [i say]		        [yes here]

                                [on the battlefield] 

[call woman]		[call america]		[call revolution]
[call the brother]	        [call myth]                  [i say] 
[call the auction]	        [call africa]		        [call revolution]

                                [in God’s name]

[is this called]		[is my mother]		[is my kin]
[i say]			[is this called]		[is some land]
[is my mother]		[and what] 		        [is this called]

	after Lucille Clifton
About this poem:
“This poem is dedicated to Phillis Wheatley, the first African American to publish a book of poetry, and a woman who was taken from Africa—and presumably, her parents—as a small child and then, sold into slavery. In West African culture, a ‘griot’ is an historian, storyteller, praise singer, or poet; the different, encapsulated bits of language in this poem represent the many black female speakers who remember the stories of their stolen kin.”

—Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Copyright © 2014 by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 10, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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