In Before the Palm Could Bloom, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley writes poems of the Liberian civil war and of the devastation it has wrought: 200,000 dead -- including 50,000 children -- and 750,000 citizens forced to take refuge in neighboring countries. And in poems of village life and customs, the city life of Monrovia, the rites of childhood and adolescence, Wesley records for the reader a world that has been forever changed. Wesley's poems incorporate many African voices, and range in tone from sorrow and longing, to humor and ironic wit. Wesley teaches African literature and other subjects at colleges in southwestern Michigan, where she now lives with her husband and four children.
"Wesley brings us frontline poetic reportage in Before the Palm Could Bloom, her first collection. Many of the voices in this book speak only here."
-Publishers Weekly, Nov. 2, 1998
"This book is a tour-de-force testament to the responsibility of writer to witness. —She balances the horrors of the Liberian Civil War, from 1989 to 1996-child soldiers and atrocities, almost a quarter million dead, three quarter million refugees-against the pastoral legacy of Liberian Life."
-Vince Gotera, North American Review