Fierce and sensual, the poems in Outlandish Blues merge everyday speech with a shimmering lyricism and burst from the page into song. Honoree Fanonne Jeffers sees the blues, what she terms the "shared 'blue notes,''' as an important intersection between the secular and the divine, and between the various African American vernacular traditions, from spirituals to jazz. Part Nina Simone, part Bessie Smith, her poems are filled with a sweaty honesty, moving from the personal to the collective experience. This movement is often accomplished through the use of personae, concentrated here in a stunning series of poems on the Biblical figures of Hagar and Sarah. Whether about a contemporary domestic scene, a slave ship, or Aretha Franklin, these are poems that speak to the soul of experience.

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