‘Dig Deep to Find Your Voice’

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'When writers write, it’s about the sensitivity of people," Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley tells participants in a creative writing workshop in Monrovia.

— Dr. Wesley challenges Liberian students in creative writing workshop series

On a rainy afternoon, seated on the fourth floor of a five-storey building on Mamba Point, Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley asked her participants to take a view of the ocean from the porch and each write a two stanza poem of what they saw and felt.

This was how she introduced her up-and-coming writers to her Young Scholars of Liberia Master workshop on Saturday, July 13, 2019.

The workshop brought together at least ten up-and-coming creative writers, under the discussion: “Digging to find your voice in the deep places of your being.”

Last Saturday’s event was part of a series of workshops that will climax with a poetry competition in which participants will stand a chance to win prizes.

Dr. Wesely said the reward this year’s poetry competition will be money and books, unlike last year. “This year’s competition is monetary. Last year, we gave out books to each of our winners, first, second and third place.”

One of the participants, Tetee A. Bonar, winner of last year’s event won with a poem she titled, “A Plea.” In an appreciation for her efforts as winner, she was awarded an autographed copy of one of Dr. Wesley’s books.

In addition to the many prizes for this year’s competition, Dr. Wesley said five of the writers, including Jee-won Arkoi, Maureen J. Davies, Kerry Adama Kennedy and Laurel Iloani will have their poems published in the DoveTales, a flagship of the “Writing for Peace” blog. DoveTales is an international online literary journal of the arts where she is a Guest Editor. She also serves on the advisory panel for Writing for Peace online.

Dr. Wesley described the elements of poetry and fiction as the basic elements one must understand to improve one’s writing. “Other things like voice are important to both kinds of writing but the elements of fiction and poetry are the basics.

As many writers may find it arduous to verbally express their feelings about things and people, Dr. Wesley urged them to express their thoughts or feelings in their books, “things you don’t tell anybody, you tell it to your book”, she told her participants.

She described Literature as an art of deep-felt emotions. “When writers write, it’s about the sensitivity of people,” she said.

Our dream is to put Liberia on the map, she told the young scholars.

“What we look for when we dig deep in ourselves is the edginess that gives flesh to the bone of craft in poetry. That edginess makes a poem bleed red, and makes an audience sigh when a good poem in read. We want to find that place so our words can live”, she explained.

Dr. Wesley said the objective of the workshop is to help writers explore that process of finding those deep scars, “those deeply happy feelings and those things about us which question the world we live in or the way we order the world we live in.”

With 32 years of experience in Creative Writing, Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley holds a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and English from Western Michigan University.  A survivor of the Liberian civil war., Dr. Wesley is a regular, featured Poet/Study Abroad faculty and speaker both in the US and internationally, and her poetry has been critically acclaimed by many reviewers and scholarly publications worldwide. She is also a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Penn State University’s Altoona campus, United States.

1 COMMENT

  1. Dr. Wesley, my heart is filled with so much gratitude for the assistance you continue to render to these young and upcoming poets/writers. Reading and writing transport one to places only our imagination can take us. We visit strange places, and we interact with others, all through the wonder of books. As an avid reader and writer, i again thank you sincerely.

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