Liberian poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley will present a reading at Hope College on Thursday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

The public is invited. Admission is free.


Raised in Liberia, Wesley came to the United States prior to the Liberian civil war to do graduate studies at Indiana University, where she obtained a master of science degree in English education. She returned to Liberia with her family in the midst of the civil war. They eventually fled from rebels into an area controlled by Charles Taylor, where they experienced torture.


Her entire family moved to the United States in 1991, having lost many members and all their possessions.


Her experiences have emerged in two books of poetry, "Before The Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa," and most recently, "Becoming Ebony," published in 2003 and the second place winner of the Crab Orchard Award Series 2nd book competition.


Wesley completed a Ph.D. in English and creative writing in June of 2002.


Poet Allison Joseph calls Wesley's poems "fearless, eye-opening, breathtaking, and compassionate. They are political poems in the best sense of the world - wise, necessary, undeniable."


Writer Stuart Dybek concurs, saying "Wesley epitomizes the poet as compassionate witness."


In addition to the reading by Wesley, the evening will feature a brief opening overview of the Liberian situation by Hope College faculty member Dr. Fred Johnson. Also, Hope senior Fatu Kamara, who is from Liberia, will share reflections concerning her personal experiences in Liberia, and Liberian students are making desserts that will be offered at the event.


Wesley's visit is being sponsored by a number of departments on campus, and is being coordinated through the department of English.

The Maas Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.