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Poetry Radio Project

Bringing Poetry Home

Larissa Anderson

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Terrance Hayes
(Renee Rosensteel)
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Patricia Jabbeh Wesley: "Poem Written from a Single Snapshot"
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Home is a subject poets have been scribbling about in stanzas since the days of Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey." This year, some poets put their own spin on the topic at City of Asylum Pittsburgh's annual jazz and poetry reading. Two of those poets come from very different places: Liberian-born Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, and native South Carolinian Terrance Hayes.

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Terrance Hayes: To feel like I'm at home in a place, I think it has a lot to do with friendships. It has a lot to do with a certain kind of a familiarity that I feel whether I'm at a grocery store or whether I'm at the bus stop.

When I moved back to Pittsburgh seven years ago, I was in the neighborhood where the woman in that poem ["Pittsburgh"] had been. And, my first time on the bus after having returned to Pittsburgh, the woman in that poem was on the bus, and so, it was a cycle of return to get back on the bus again and have this woman who had introduced me to a certain kind of a home the first time be there to welcome me back.

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley: When I think of the word home, it brings tears to my eyes. I moved away from my country because of war. I remember my grandfather on bare feet in a muddy hut. He said to me, "You belong here. You are ours," and so when I think of home, I think of how much I have lost.

The whole idea of becoming is different from the whole idea of being. Where you were born and brought up and fed and nurtured is home. It doesn't have to become home. But, where you decide to go and that place accepts you and becomes stable, then it becomes home, and so for me, America is home, has become home, is becoming home, but where I came from will never stop being home.

More stories from our Poetry Radio Project series

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