A new book is like a new baby. You plan, you write, you edit, nurturing the poems, then you find a publisher, and wait, and then the book is published. When the book is published, like a new born, it must be well-received, welcome, and shown around the harsh world it was born into. If it finds good footing, it thrives and finds its own hearts to conquer, its own eyes to drain tears from, its own lovers to make laugh. If it does this well enough, the author and publisher are happy, and the book grows as reviewers study it, examine it, and test it. The author on the other hand, has delivered the book, and is empty of everything for a while, like a new mother.
Biography When the Wanderers Come Home
—Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
This is where we were born
in these corrugated rugged places,
where boys chasing girls chasing
boys chasing other girls chasing bellies
chasing babies chasing other babies
chasing poverty, chased death.
Of potholed streets and bars and sex
and other girls getting drowned
forever and ever in loveless love.
And then the fires of our lives
lit other fires of other lives
with lust and then
there was no longer us.
So then the war came with its bullets
chasing people chasing the bombs,
and ghost towns sprang up
with carcasses of the dying
and the dead. And like mushrooms,
the dead rose up to claim the land
and we were no more.
But the fires still burned in the wombs
and in the eyes of the city streets
below which the dead lovers and
love lie. And there was life again
out of so much pain,
and life took on its own life again
and the girls returned on the backs
of surreal horses in search
of that old fire. But these were no longer
the same girls or boys or men or women.
But this is where we grew up on these
sidewalk streets, in these rugged places.
This is where the streets come in.
This is where we belong.
This is where life begins.
When people ask me which of the few books I have written is my favorite, I say, “All of them. They are each like a child, unique and beautiful in themselves, and there’s none that is better than the other.” That is the writer’s perspective. The literary reviewer/critic says something entirely different. They are the gate keepers. So, here comes another book for the gate keepers to examine. Enjoy.
I am pleased to announce to my readers, my supporters, fans, friends, fellow poets that my fourth book of poems, Where the Road Turns has been released by (Autumn House Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 20, 2010)
The book, which has 110 poetry pages or 126 pages in total was published by the publisher of my third book, The River is Rising, and is already enjoying its first week on the market. I was fortunate to have two very important writers in my life write blurbs for the book. Frank Chipasula, poet, editor and publisher reviewed the book and wrote a very beautiful blurb for me. Another blurb was taken from a review by Robert H. Brown in the Liberian Studies Journal. Chipasula is the editor of Bending the Bow: An Anthology of African Love Poems, e Heinemann Book of African Women’s Poetry and books of poetry by himself wrote a blurb that I have yet to live up to. I am only the fortunate one to have so many great poets, publishers, poetry friends and well wishers in my corner. I would not be here writing books of poetry without all of this network of good people. I take this moment to express my thanks and gratitude to these friends, my family, including my wonderful children who have always been there for me.
A Very Busy Few Weeks Leading to the Book’s Arrival:
Where the Road Turns was slated to come out on Sept. 1, 2010, but I was again blessed when my publisher, Michael Simms decided to bring the book out as early as possible. So, it arrived at my door on Tuesday, July 20, a day after I arrived from the 20th International Poetry Festival of Medellin in Colombia. In another post, I will take the time to highlight my adventure, the great festival of 100 world poets, the great audiences and the Colombian people. At this point, I will post a few poems from the book to help you take a glance into the book. Michael Simms, my publisher really believes in the book, and let me confess, he helped even me believe in the book. I know that you will love the difference between this fourth book and the third, and you will see how far the book is from the first two.
This is my last reading from Where the Road Turns as a manuscript. A new book is like a new child. It comes into a very harsh world, but if the book is fortunate and is promoted, it is well-received, and finds its place into the hearts of the people.
This reading is part of the nine readings within ten days that I had scheduled for me in Colombia’s 20th International Poetry Festival of Medellin. The auditorium was packed with about 300 or more from the region of the city of Villavicencio, Colombia. To get to the town from Medellin, we were driven about an hour or more to Medellin Airport, flown for about an hour or less to Bogota Airport, from there, a driver drove us from Bogota Airport to the city of Villacicencio, where a packed room of the beautiful poetry lovers of Medellin awaited my team member, Erling, a poet from Norway and I. This is only a sneak peak into the Festival posting that is to come within the end of the week.
POETRY SAMPLES FROM THE NEW BOOK FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT:
We Departed Our Homelands and We Came . . .
– Grebo Saying
By Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
We departed our homelands and we came,
so the Grebo say, we came with our hands
and we came with our machetes
so we too, could carve up the new land.
When we left home, we crossed streams
and we climbed up hills; we set out through
wet brushes, and the rivers parted
so we could cross.
We know that if the leopard should leap,
it is because it sees an antelope passing.
We came, not so we could sit and watch
a wrestling match, not so we could watch
the land on which our feet walk,
rise beyond our reach.
We journeyed from our homelands,
and we came, so, let it be known that we left
our homelands, and we came.
When we arrived, we dug up the earth,
and in this new earth, we laid down
our umbilical cords, forever.
So let it be known among the people– we left
all the beauty of our homelands
not so we would sit out on The Mat to wail.
Ghosts Don’t Go Away Just Like That
By Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Sometimes they lurk in hallways where they have lost
the other side of them. They may hover over new wars,
like the wars that carried them away from their bodies,
causing them to lose their world and us in the rush.
Ghosts don’t go away just like that, you know;
they may come in that same huge crowd that was
massacred together with them, and since that massacre
may have happened at school, in a bar or at church, they
may be found, kneeling at the pulpit, singing and taking
communion again and again, with everyone else.
They gather on a Saturday evening, as the sun sets over
the hills and a small flash of yesterday’s lightning lingers
from that old storm as the new storm rides in, and then,
there they are, ghosts! You can see them only if you have
eyes to see them as ghosts of humans, and yet not ghosts.
They’re looking to see if we will recall that they were here.
To see if we will build a stone to honor the fact that they
were here, with us, walking and talking, like us, to see
if we will remember that they lost so much blood
in the shooting, that they broke a leg or two, and that
so many of them were not counted in that sad number.
They want to know if we will put up a stone or keep
the fire burning to put out the fires, to stop all the killing
in the city streets, around the world,
to stop all the killing in the eyes of the city streets.
All poetry in this post was taken from Where the Road Turns (copyright Autumn House Press, Pittsburgh)
(“Biography When the Wanderers Come Home” was previously published in The Literary Review, Winter 2009 Issue. Copyright: Autumn House Press, Pittsburgh, PA)
HOW TO PURCHASE COPIES OF THE NEW BOOK:
Amazon.com, Autumn House Press, your neighborhood bookstore (if not available, you can ask them to carry the book, most institutional libraries, etc.)
Again, thanks for giving me the inspiration and support to continue to write. None of this would be possible without you.
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley