All The Songs
A collection of poems, stories, and essays celebrating members of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective. Available June 2, 2020.
In Loving Memory
Valjeanne Jeffers Thompson. 1959-2022
Valjeanne was born on September 24, 1959 in Tuskegee, Alabama to the late Dr. Lance Jeffers, Sr. and Dr. Trellie Jeffers. Valjeanne was a member of St. Francis Catholic Church. After completing her formal education at Hillside High School in Durham, NC, she went on to study at Spelman College, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She continued her studies at North Carolina Central University, earning her Master’s degree in Psychology. She was a certified mental health professional for many years, but her heart belonged to the Arts, especially Science Fiction. Valjeanne was an avid speculative fiction and screenwriter and lover of all things literary. She is also known for her poetry. She wrote under the name Valjeanne Jeffers and created an impressive body of work. She was the most famous woman in the Steamfunk and Cyberfunk genres, which married Afrofuturism and Steampunk / Cyberpunk respectively. Valjeanne is the author of 10 books.
Tribute For Valjeanne Jeffers Thompson
Valjeanne was so supportive of The Collective. When she lived in the state, she frequently attended the CAAWC Workshops/Meetings and always participated. She was such a prolific novelist, who established herself writing science fiction. In short, she excelled as an Afrofuturist. Her smile and kind words will definitely be missed. She was a major CAAWC member. I am pleased to know that we have her books to revisit. Her legacy cannot be ignored. She did her important literary work, because it was her calling.
Lenard D. Moore.
Founder & Executive Director of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective.
Personal Tribute for Valjeanne Jeffers Thompson
I had every expectation that Valjeanne Jeffers Thompson would satiate me with works of poetry when she joined the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective. After all, she was the daughter of the acclaimed late poet Dr. Lance Jeffers, whose work I had long admired. Valjeanne’s poetry certainly did not disappoint me, but the speculative fiction excerpt she read during her very first meeting with the Collective made me sit up straighter and absorb every word. She read from Immortal, a manuscript in-progress. Her writing reacquainted me with a genre that I had read in an undergraduate class earlier, and only then because I did so for a grade.
In contrast to my class, Valjeanne’s work forged a world where Black characters confronted contemporary social issues head-on. Her examination of racism, sexism, and social upheavals, for example, mirrored reality. Her characters were visual and articulate, and she thickened plots with unforgettable attention to language and imagery. Each new excerpt that Valjeanne shared during the course of subsequent CAWWC workshops left me eager to further imagine the possibility of other realms.
As a writer, Valjeanne understood the brevity of mortal life and never allowed her literary voice to exist as a fleeting whisper or mumble. She emphasized the importance of making sure that readers heard what she had to say in the here-and-now. Rather than waiting around, praying for a publisher to accept her work, Valjeanne made the decision to self-publish her first manuscript. The magnitude of such an undertaking seemingly invigorated her as she promoted her work. Meanwhile, she kept writing books and poetry and evidencing her presence in the present and the future.
L. Teresa Church, PhD
In celebration of Valjeanne.
I met Valjeanne through the Carolina African American Writers Collective and I remember the experience of workshopping with her vividly. She was so committed to her caring and incisive feedback. She was even more so committed to the autonomy of her voice; she struck me as SO fierce in style, in character, in commitment to her characters and the worlds she built. In one eye, she saw all the possibilities of ever could be and in the other she saw beyond the limits of galaxies and the fixedness of bodies. She was so brilliant and daring. I stand in such gratitude that I walked alongside her a while. May her name always be a blessing, her writing remembered, her being a light to all of us who dare and defy and do this writing thing.
Raina J. León, PhD (she/her/hers)
Lenard D. Moore is an internationally acclaimed poet and anthologist. His literary works have been published in more than fifteen countries and translated into more than a dozen languages. He teaches African-American literature and creative writing at the University of Mount Olive, where he directs the literary festival. He is a U.S. Army Veteran. Moore is the author of Geography of Jazz, A Temple Looming, Desert Storm: A Brief History, Forever Home, and The Open Eye, among others. He is the editor for One Window’s Light: A Collection of Haiku. He is the founder and executive director of the Carolina African-American Writers’ Collective and the executive chairman of the North Carolina Haiku Society. He was the first African-American president of the Haiku Society of America. His awards include the North Carolina Award for Literature and the Haiku Museum of Tokyo Award.