Chatham News

Poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley to give reading at Chatham as part of the Words Without Walls Black Writers Reading Series

PITTSBURGH (July 12, 2012)… Chatham University will host poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley for a free public reading and book signing at 8 p.m. on July 24, in the Mellon Board Room, Shadyside Campus. The event is the final reading of Chatham’s “Words Without Walls Black Writers Reading Series,” funded by the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation. The grant supports the visits of five black writers throughout the year, who present their work at the Allegheny County Jail for the inmates studying creative writing there through Chatham’s Words Without Walls program. While in Pittsburgh, writers give public readings of their work. More information about the series is available on Chatham’s news page.

A Liberian civil war survivor, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s most recent book, Where the Road Turns (Autumn House Press, 2010), is a lyric exploration of what it is to be a survivor and an immigrant. Her previous works include The River is Rising (Autumn House Press, 2007), Becoming Ebony (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003), and Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 1998). Currently at work on her memoir of the Liberian Civil War, Patricia teaches English, creative writing, and African literature at Penn State University, Altoona.

Wesley has been honored with a World Bank Fellowship, a Crystal Award 2006, and the Liberian Award for her documentation of the Liberian Civil War experience in poetry. Her work has been anthologized in Europe, South America, Africa, and the United States.

About Words Without Walls

Words Without Walls is a creative collaboration between Chatham University’s MFA in Creative Writing program and the Allegheny County Jail. It fosters and supports creative expression and personal growth by exposing men and women at the jail to literature, award-winning visiting authors, and the opportunity to publish their work. Words Without Walls grew from a residency program started by artist Sandra Gould Ford. Because of the program’s reach, Chatham University committed to continuing the program’s creative writing classes at Allegheny County Jail in June 2010. Because of its innovative approach to learning and teaching, Words Without Walls has received support from the A. W. Mellon Education and Charitable Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation and the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Fund, a partnership of The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation.

About Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program
Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing allows students to focus on tracks in creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and writing for children, while encouraging them to explore two tracks simultaneously. Students take innovative field seminars that include travel to such places as Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, and Germany. In 2007 Poets & Writers named the MFA one of “Nine Distinctive Programs” and The Atlantic Monthly named it one of five innovative/unique programs in the country in its “Best of the Best” graduate program listings. In January 2012, The Writer named it one of the “4 top schools you should consider” and in 2009, named it one of ten programs that offer a specialty focus. Chatham University also offers an undergraduate BFA in Creative Writing, an online Master of Professional Writing, and a low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. For more information, visit or contact Sheryl St. Germain at