Young Scholars of Liberia Thrill Hundreds with Poems for Peace -As BFF, WPM Celebrate World Poetry Day, Memorializes 9/11 Tragedy

Young Scholars of Liberia (YSL) who are dedicated to poetry writing, fiction and nonfiction on Saturday, September 11, 2021, thrilled hundreds of people including some of Liberia’s best and brightest minds with poems reading for peace and enlightenment.

The poetry reading, held on the campus of the New Hope Academy on Peace Island, Jacobs Town, in Paynesville was in line with the annual observance of World Poetry Movement when the literary world celebrated the immense contributions of poets and poetry in building understanding and unity among peoples of the world.

This year, the Liberian Chapter of the World Poetry Movement (WPM) chose September 11 for the World Poetry Celebration.

Poems were read from the One World One People 2019 DoveTales Anthology which has been guest-edited by a renowned Liberian scholar and poet, Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Professor of English, Creative Writing & Literature at Penn State University, USA, and senior executive of the World Poetry Movement (WPM).

The event was organized by Dr. Wesley, who is also founder of the Young Scholars of Liberia (YSL) and National Coordinator of the World Poetry Movement (WPM) in Liberia in collaboration with the Better Future Foundation (BFF).

The Liberian youth writers and YSL members including Jee-won M.E. Arkoi, Maureen Jennifer Davis, Kerry Adama Kennedy read their own poems: “My Mother’s Tale, Free Me, and Home” respectively which were published in the anthology. Jee-won additionally read the poem Begin by Marjorie Maddox.

New Hope Academy students and members of Girls of Distinction (GoD) also joined to read poems. Ms. Mafatta H. Yarmah read the poem: “I Am a Refugee Walking” by Carol Griffin and her own poem “True Friend.” Ms. Salimatu M. Sheriff read the poem: “Travel Journal” by Lennart Lundh and her own poem: “Peace and Unity”, and Ms. Masue A. Kromah read the poem: “All This is That” by William Conelly.

New Hope Academy’s consultant, Mr. Selekie Kanneh, read the poem: “Life’s Catwalk” by Althea Romeo-Mark; Youth Beyond Barriers member, Ahmed E.O. Rogers, read the poem: “In the Photo” by Georgia Wilder; and Ms. Grace J. Arkoi read the poem: “Forgiving Myself” by Laurie Kolp.

Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley joined the program via Zoom and read two of her poems: “On September 11” and “Tugbakeh: After Too Many Years” which are both published in the anthology.

Earlier, Dr. D. Evelyn S. Kandakai, a renowned educator who is also former Liberian Minister of Education, asked the audience to observe a moment of silence in memory of over 3000 persons who lost their lives in the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks that took place in the United States of America (USA).

Dr. Kandakai, Rev. Gerald B. Coleman, a University Lecturer and former Commissioner of Liberia’s erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the President of Liberia Association of Writers (LAW) Mr. Samuel Dweh, all published writers, were the Special Guests at the event.

In remark, Dr. Kandakai who read two of her published poems encouraged the young Liberian writers and scholars to remain committed and focused in their literary writings as they promote societal peace and progress and to strive for advanced knowledge at all times.

Dr. Kandakai applauded YSL Founder and National Coordinator, Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, for her initiative which she described as very good for the consolidation of peace and progress not only in Liberia but also worldwide.

Also speaking at the occasion, Rev. Gerald B. Coleman, former TRC Commissioner, expressed delight that young Liberian scholars are using literary writings including poems, fiction and nonfiction to advocate for world peace and progress.

He recalled that for more than two years, the Liberian nation, after its decade-long civil war, embarked on a search for peace and national reconciliation through the TRC process but the country still remains challenged in its search for genuine peace. While applauding the Young Scholars of Liberia (YSL) and Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, he urged Liberians in general to rise above division and treat each other as one family without malice against none and love for all.

The President of Liberia Association of Writers (LAW) Mr. Samuel Dweh, expressed similar sentiments. He urged the young scholars to strive for advanced knowledge and skills with the sky being their limit.

BFF President, Rev. Augustine S. Arkoi, reminded the audience about the significance of remembering 9/11 when terrorists attacked the United States in 2001 and killed thousands of innocent people and injured so many others.

“This was the day when terrorists attacked facilities in the United States and killed thousands of people.” On behalf of Dr. Wesley, Rev. Arkoi then handed out copies of the One World One People Anthology to Dr. Kandakai and YSL members. The program was facilitated by BFF’s Senior Associate, Mr. Debo Belvis O’diaji. Hundreds of people attended the event which was carried live on a local television and social media platforms.

The World Poetry Movement (WPM), is the coordination of worldwide organizations and poets: international poetry festivals, educational projects and poetry publishing houses. WPM organizes regular world poetry actions, and manages consistent publications centered in preoccupations of current time.

Dr. Wesley was appointed by the Coordinating Committee of the WPM on 02 September 2021, with responsibilities to build the Movement in Liberia and to gather and send poetic materials for publication. It is within this context that Dr. Wesley organized this event; hosted and implemented by Better Future Foundation.

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