Book Review by Ralph Geeplay
Where the Road Turns is a handsomely written poetry book by the Liberian writer Patricia Jabbeh Wesley that has been deservedly praised. Published in 2010, this mouthwatering collection is a flock of many themes – there’s not a boring moment.
Wesley speaks from the heart and opens a volume which takes a reader on a rollercoaster ride, as she narrates awful war tales while masterfully weaving in rhymes and verses about life during the civil unrest and the woes she experienced in her native Liberia before being transplanted to North America.
The poet’s voice is superb in planting a lovely language, which is busy with radiance. There is subtleness to her writing, but underneath this powerfully laid voice is a fury and ire from knowing and seeing war.
What the reader gets from this collection are tales of love, the densities and shades of life, and the splendid qualities of the human spirit for survival. As a woman writer, Wesley pays tribute to motherhood and sisterly embrace.
The book puts Liberia into perspective, but there are also universal themes – the poems speak to all readers as it mesmerizes and cajoles. There is tempo to the lines, as Wesley recounts quietly the tragedy which visited the country and denied her the otherwise beautiful life that was before an ugly crisis befell the West African country.
In “If I Could Write a Poem about Love,” a compliment to the healing and forgiveness, perhaps, of a dreadful experience, she writes:
“If I could write a poem about love
I’d write a slender one
About a jaybird that sits on my deck
When the sun has been out so long
Over the humping cliffs”
And in “Each Waking Moment,” Wesley beguiles her readers about the beauty of life, thankful for living and being alive, and the everyday little pleasures we almost certainly take for granted, writing:
“I love my morning on a hill
Each waking moment, the rustling brush,
Each silent cricket, the squirrel wakes”
It is this beautiful unmistaken verse that has earned the book accolades. Where the Road Turns was indeed a pleasure when I finally had a time to sit down and, rolled my thick fingers through the pages – feeling the elation, anger, love, nature, hate that inspires violence and finally the forgiveness that comes with a powerful language inspire by a gifted poet.
Published by Autumn Press in Pittsburg, this is a 115-page paperback. Wesley teaches English at Pennsylvania State University in Atoona. She has written four books of poetry and a children’s book, “In Monrovia, the River Visits the Sea,” which was recently published by the Liberian-owned One Moore Book. The book is available for purchase via Amazon.