Give Now

Poetry Under Fire: Healing In a Liberian Voice

" You cannot run, writing prose. You can run while writing poetry."

Photo:

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Much-honored poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley had to flee her African home country, Liberia, in the 1989 civil war, under gunfire and bombardment. It was then that she discovered, “it is very difficult to write prose under gunfire. You cannot run, writing prose. You can run while writing poetry.”

In this story for Cafe Indiana, Shayne Laughter discovers how Wesley’s voice as a writer developed in her youth, which was spent between the capital city, Monrovia, and her tribal home in the country, among the Grebo people. That rich language is heard in a reading of Wesley’s poem, “Searching For My Family,” where a man seeks his wife and two sons among the throngs of refugees.

Wesley earned a Master’s in Education from Indiana University, and now teaches at Penn State-Altoona. She has used poetry in workshops on writing as a means to heal from trauma — especially the trauma of war. She has also interviewed and worked with Liberian women who survived the 14-year civil war, using poetry as a way to draw them out of silence.

“Yes, this was war,” Wesley says, “but I can move on. I can live again.”

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media Arts & Music:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search Arts and Music

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media Arts & Music:

Recent Books & Literature Stories

Books & Literature Events RSS icon

More Events »Submit Your Event »

Arts & Music is on Twitter

Find Us on Facebook

This Week on Poets Weave

Impossible Map Out Of The Basement

Yael Massen

Yael Massen reads "View From the Clock Tower, Piazza del Campo," "Impossible Map Out Of The Basement," "Immobility Response," and "Acrostics (5): Speculum."

Read more »

The Poets Weave is a weekly five-minute program of poetry reading hosted by local poet Christopher Citro.

More from The Poets Weave »

This Week on Earth Eats

A Wild Berry Helps Protect China’s Giant Pandas, Countryside

schisandra berries

Schisandra is made into soups and jams and prized as a medicinal plant. Now the berry is at the center of a dramatic new approach to conservation.

Read more »

Earth Eats is a podcast, radio program and blog of the freshest news and recipes inspired by local food and sustainable agriculture.

More from Earth Eats »

This Week on Focus on Flowers

Bumblebee Brains

bee brain

Bees have brains that demonstrate social learning...

Read more »

Focus on Flowers is a weekly program about flower gardening hosted by master gardener Moya Andews.

More from Focus on Flowers »