Promising Start for “Yearnings of a Traveler”

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“Yearnings of a Traveler”, the debut collection of award winning Liberian poet, Lekpele Nyamalon, is off to a promising start, having sold over 100 copies at the launch and achieved a “number one bestseller for African Poetry” rating during its first 20 days of publication on Amazon.com.

“Yearnings of a Traveler” offers readers insight into the poet’s travel experiences. It expresses the cultural values and norms of people he met and the ills he observed affecting people and society at large and the hope for one to persistently fight for his or her own rights.

The book also inspires and stirs the mind of the reader to go beyond the poet’s thinking and experiences to create an image of the story in one’s own mind.

The book is already showered with critical praise from several published Liberian writers.

Elma Shaw, author of the novel ‘Redemption Road’, described the book as a collection of “Remarkable poems that will ring a bell in your mind long after you have read them.”

‘Living Through Poetry’ author Aken V. Wariebi said, “His poems put life’s designs in the written word that makes us think deeper and ponder and reflect and nourish our souls. They recite what the naked eye may take for granted or are unseen and remind us to see more, and have the vision of living – not just existing.

“He lets us think constructively but [encourages us to] let our walls down a bit and embrace life to its fullest potential… One of Africa’s finest poets…” Ms. Wariebi added.

The book was launched on Saturday, April 2 at Corina Hotel, on 12th Street, Sinkor, and brought together current and former government officials and writers including Augustine KpeheNgafuan, former Minister of Foreign Affairs (himself a poet), and Liberia Anti Corruption Commission boss, James Verdier.

The Executive Chairperson of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), Angelique Weeks, served as chief launcher.

The audience was in for a treat when Nyamalon invited several personalities to each read a poem, a unique feature that drew a favorable response from listeners. Madam Weeks read the poem, ‘Scars Of A Tired Nation’; Josiah Joekai read ‘My Brother Drowned Crossing’; Earnest Smith read ‘Dig The Graves’; Bai Best read ‘Belle Yalla’; and Nyamalon’s daughter, Leemu, read ‘Forgotten Future’. As the readers delivered these powerful poems, many in the audience followed closely from copies of the book already purchased.

“Reading the book as already given me a wealth of knowledge on societal issues,” Weeks said, describing the collection as one of the best she has read in recent times that gave her a lasting impression after reading.

Also speaking at the launching was Bai Best, Marketing Manager at the Daily Observer Newspaper, in which many of Nyamalon’s poems were published.

“The book does not only create a picture in one’s mind when reading; it also motivates one toward greatness,” Best said.

The book features exactly 25 inspirational poems, including the award winning “Forgotten Future”, which portrays the African setting with its past and describes the suffering of our young boys and girls, pleading for their freedom and dignity.

“My Body Is Gold”, a poem previously published in the Daily Observer and dedicated as part of Nyamalon’scontribution to ending violence against women, is also featured.

The launch was hosted by two UNMIL Radio personalities, Eva Flomo and Facia B. Harris. Toward the end of the program, Ms. Flomo joined Lekepele’s cousin and sister in a Kpelle song and dance in thanksgiving to God “for a son, a brother and a cousin whose school fees did not go in vain.”

Lekpele M. Nyamalon is a Liberian poet, writer, blogger and an OSIWA Poetry fellow, the only Liberian to contribute to the West African Anthology titled ‘Soaring Africa’, sponsored by the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA).

Several of his works have been featured in several literary papers, including the prestigious Kalahari Review, the Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature, and the Daily Observer Newspaper. He is also featured among the best new African poets for 2015.

In 2014, his poem titled “This Place, Our Place” appeared in the World Anthology of Poetry, which featured renowned poets such as Patricia Temple of Peru, Dr. Stephen Billy Olajide of Nigeria and AmarendraKhatua, the Indian Ambassador to Argentina. In all, 237 poems that were collected worldwide. Liberia appeared at 17th place with Nyamalon’s work.

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