Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Featured Writer

I have always loved writing poetry and short stories. Even as a child, I wrote poetry about everything from inspiration to my father’s admiration. Poetry comes to me naturally because I think in imagery and metaphors, in symbols, and juxtaposed realities. To me, everything can inspire a good poem. I can take a small thing and turn it into a poem about the larger issues of the world. I used to make up songs and rhymes for my classmates in elementary school, poems, my best friends from 6th grade still recite when we meet today. During my busy college days, I learned quickly that a poem does not wait for you to make time for it. For more than forty years now, I have therefore stopped everything for a poem. Often, I’ll pull off a busy highway, stop cooking dinner, or burn the food for a poem. I used to stop changing my baby’s diaper or grab a sheet of paper in the middle of a class to scribble down a poem. My college textbooks and my yearbooks still have poems I wrote in them in the 1970s. A church bulletin is writing pad for a poem, and as recently as last week, I wrote a poem in my bulletin while sitting in church. If I do not write when it comes to me, I lose the poem forever. This is why I write as soon as I feel the inspiration in my mind. I am not one who sets aside time every day to write as other poets do.

To young writers, I say, open your mind’s eyes to everything and be awake to the world’s beauty and pain around you. A good poem is one that when you begin to write, takes you by the hand, and leads you to where it wants to go. About editing, I do not labor too long over a poem, and I do not kill my poem through excessive editing. Sometimes, an inspiration is so large, I may write two poems from one inspiration in one sitting, often, only editing once. I call such poems poems “sister-poems,” because they were birthed from the same powerful inspiration.