Somewhere Else by Mathew Shenoda – Poetry Review

somewhere elseSomewhere Else

by Mathew Shenoda

From the river Nile to the teeming streets of Cairo, from the indigenous, pre-Islamic Egyptian Coptic civilization to an America struggling with its fear of the Arab world, Shenoda’s poems recall the sacred traditions of an ancient, enduring culture as they widen the political conversation surrounding ethnicity, pan-Africanism and pan-Arabism. This notable collection spans generational, political and cultural divides, providing a nuanced perspective virtually unknown in the West.

Publisher: Coffee House Press, Minneapolis

Purchase Here: Somewhere Else on Amazon

 

Favorite Poems from this Book:

Excerpt of Somewhere Else

...
There will come a day when they say: 
who do you think you are 
and another day will come 
for you to tell. 

On that day the story will appear 
but do not tell of yourself 

tell the story of the staff that blossomed in the desert
or the one about your enemy’s greatest victory

tell the story of somewhere else...Read This Poem

Excerpt of New Cairo

…I stand on the balcony, staring

Withdrawn from this poverty by a mere Generation,

Then I remember

Great Grandmother used to say:

“If you throw salt away

God will make you

Pick it up

One grain at a time

with your eyelashes”

Take a moment and just imagine what it would take to actually collect salt one grain at a time with your eyelashes.  Yes, there would be tears, what an impossible task, you’d say.  At first, I laughed at the idea of Great Grandmother’s statement, but then you think about it and it’s eye opening. If you’re desperate you’ll do it, right?  You’ll find a way to collect that salt with your eyes, but what a painful process that would be.  So, don’t throw away a good thing…hmm…

Mathew Shenoda’s thought-provoking Poetry = Stunning, Effortless Truths

Elly in Nairobi Thoughts

Mathew Shenoda writes poetry with a deep love for heritage and culture.  There is always that sense of go back, think about where you come from, how it has shaped you, why you are this person today. I think this book reminds me to remember where am from and where I belong.  Where is home? What does that word mean really?

Time changes, as it must, we all change, but even with change, stop and embrace what your past is, how you’ve gotten here.  What were your ancestors’ hopes, one day you’ll be the one they’ll call ancestor.  What do you want them to think of you?

Meet Mathew Shenoda at the Storymoja Hay Festival:

  Matthew-Shenoda-profile-Masterclass: Critiquing & Editing Poetry
  With: Matthew Shenoda (Egypt/USA) & Ladan Osman (Somalia/USA), Keguro Macharia (Kenya)
  Time: Thur 18th September 2:30pm – 5:30pm
  Venue: Nairobi National Museum @ the STORYMOJA FESTIVAL
 About the Masterclass: POETRY DOCTORS
One of the most essential elements of poetry writing is the process of editing alongside self critique and peer critique. In this workshop we will examine various ways of conceptualizing work as a writer engages the writing process and as a way to gain a critical understanding of one’s own writing. We will then look at a rubric for editing and critiquing that helps the poet reach the aims they set out to achieve in their writing.

 

Advertisements

Immortal Blood- Book Review

Immortal BloodImmortal Blood

by Magen McMinimy

A perfect night on the town turns out to be her worst nightmare. A date with a handsome man is the catalyst for events that she thought only happened in fairy tales. Thrust into a world of danger, Isabelle has no idea what is in store for her as the Light and Dark Fae fight over her future.

Isabelle Moreno is a young woman working her way through life, finding little time for love and adventure. Until she agrees to a date with a mysterious stranger, only to find out the secrets this man holds are something she could have lived her entire life without knowing. The Dark Fae Luck Eater has found something enticing in Isabella’s humanity.

Bain is an arrogant playboy and an Immortal Light Fae Warrior. He and his four brothers fight for the safety of the human race while remaining something of myth. After weeks of tracking the Dark Fae Luck Eater, Bain comes across yet another victim, in Isabelle.

Bain has finally found his match in this feisty human as she fights against him and her ever growing attraction to the Immortal who is bound to protect her.

Book Review:

The story starts with Izzy going on a date with a handsome man named Zander.  This is her first date in a while, and she only agreed to it because her younger sister Marie urged Izzy to enjoy the last year of her twenties and put herself out there.

She’s liking this Zander guy and agrees to a nightcap with him, so off they go.  In comes two warriors, Uriah and Bain, who are hot on Zander’s heels.  Apparently, Zander is a vicious thief who steals luck from successful women.  Why?  Because he is a leprechaun and therefore Fae…for a moment, my mind flashes back to Lost Girl and the bi-Succubus who rules that town…lol…back to Immortal Blood.  Poor Isabelle is saved by Bain and Uriah, but they were a tad late and she’s lost a lot of her luck.  She’s falling on her face, almost getting knocked by a truck, and generally her happy date has turned into a nightmare as Bain and Uriah unveil great huge wings, that leave her disbelieving.

Now that Zander has her luck, Bain is tasked to protect Isabelle as Zander will want to come back for more. And because she refuses to leave with Bain, he is forced to stay at her house until she agrees to leave with him.   Bain is a spoiled brat, a playboy, and the most arrogant man Isabelle has ever met, and because of that, she makes it a point to be as stubborn as she can be, when he makes unreasonable demands.  The best part of this story is the dance between Bain and Isabelle.  He likes her because she stands up to him, she does her best to counter his arrogant ways, and grudgingly likes him as she gets to know him.

I love the twist on the Fae world. I find the funny play on Vampires and Bain’s Immortal Warrior interesting.  The writer paints her own take of the magical world, giving it an identity that’s refreshing and at the same time familiar.  The plot is strong, and the characters lovable.  I had no problem reading through this in one sitting.  I’d recommend it to anyone who loves a good fantasy novel.

I got this book from Amazon.

Currently available on your Kindle: Here 

Drumbeats : Romance Novels set in East Africa

I’ve read romance novels since I was old enough.  I used to steal my mom’s stash of weekly stories from reader’s digest, so old, I don’t think they publish them anymore.  Then it was the high school romance books; from Sweet Valley High series, Mills & Boon, Harlequin Romance, graduating to authors such as Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Johanna Lindsay, Christine Feehan and others. My bookshelf tells a story of a love for romance that grows with time.  So much so, that I have delved into writing myself, wanting to create heroes and heroines that will resonate with the people around me.

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, it’s been tough to find any books set in my city, with characters living the life I’ve known, going through experiences in a setting I understand.  My city is full of culture: a culture that gives so much color to life,  I’ve always thought that romance stories written with characters in my region would be exciting to read.  Last year, I ran across a blog post / call for submissions by Storymoja.  It was a query for stories set in East Africa, romance stories meant to meet the same genre found in my favorite Mills & Boon, or a Harlequin Romance.  I was excited and thrilled, so much so, I submitted my own story to them late December. (Here’s my hope that I’ll get a response from them. ^_^) Lol.  My hope aside, Storymoja has released an exciting series of stories called Drumbeats.

I have gotten the chance to read a few of them.  I have to say, I’m so privileged to share Romance stories written by East Africans for East Africans.  Here are some of the titles that are now available as E-books on Amazon.

 

Best Laid Plans

by  Vaishnavi Ram Mohan

Roshni thought she had her life in perfect control. Everything was as she’d planned it, including her engagement to long-time friend Shiv. But a series of unplanned encounters in the unpredictable Nairobi traffic with Nyagah changed everything. Nyagah was the opposite of everything Roshni thought she’d want in a man. So why did he make her heart race? Why did she look forward to their meetings more than anything? What was it about him that made her defy all her rules? And why was she toying with the idea of breaking off her engagement to the perfect-match, family-approved Indian man and hooking up with a Kenyan man whom she knew only from a few traffic-jam meetings? This is an urban love story set in contemporary Nairobi.

Available on Amazon, Get it Now!

This story quickly became my favorite.  First it’s set in Nairobi, second, a culture crash was in the offing, lots of stereotypes to get through for Roshni and Nyagah.  Roshni is so orderly, and straight-laced, her relationship with Nyagah starts off to a smashing start, I couldn’t stop reading it.

HEAVEN ON EARTH

By Hilda Gathanga

Caroline was finally getting her life on the right track. She had a thriving tours business, great family and friends and was happily single. In fact, men were the last thing on her agenda. Until handsome Andrew walked into her office, and the unthinkable happened: she fell in love with one of her clients! But can Caroline risk everything she has worked for and give into the charms of Andrew? Can she put her trust in his promises of heaven on earth? And does she dare entrust her heart to a man once again, especially one who has a very odd philosophy about dating and relationships?

Available on Amazon Get it Now!

This story is also set in Nairobi. I loved the progress of budding love, those first moments you’re so shy and unsure, to the end where decisions have to be made as the relationship strengthens and becomes something the heroine can’t live without.  Beautiful story.

STUCK TOGETHER

By Vaishnavi Ram Mohan

Alisha Oketch’s worst nightmares come true when circumstances force her to move in with Alexander Bonaparte Obanda. She’s fun-loving, wild and carefree. Alexander Bonaparte, her dictatorial flatmate, is prim and proper, super-organised and in Alisha’s opinion, super-annoying. Arguments and fights follow as their polar-opposite personalities collide. Yet, somewhere amidst the squabbling, a romance begins to blossom between the two. So, can two strangers stuck together really find love with each other? This is a humorous romance set in a Nairobi college campus.

This one is on my To Read List…very promising, and I like the way Ms. Mohan writes.

Available on Amazon Get it Now

CRANES CREST AT SUNSET

By Dilman Dila

Kabita, a beautiful Nepali doctor escapes from an arranged marriage to serve in a remote village in rural Uganda. In this village, she hopes to put to rest the haunting memories of her forbidden love and shattered past. But the peace she so desperately seeks seems elusive now, as she finds herself falling in love with Steven, a handsome African herdsman. Is she foolish to reject the advances of a fellow doctor for an idle herdsman painter? And is Steven really what he seems to be? Should she follow her heart or mind? Will Kabita finally find joy or will her dreams be shattered again? This is an intense love story set in rural Uganda.

Available on Amazon, Get it Now!

I love the poetry in this story, from the first line to the end, there is love for the village in the author’s words, so much so, it shines in Kabita’s every description.  It was easy to get lost in this one too.

So, the books above are a small taste of Nairobi, and a setting in rural Uganda, written with such poetic words, it was easy to fall in love.  I can’t wait to see what other titles Drumbeats produce.  Great Job, Storymoja Editors!

What are you reading?

I Love You this Much – Dora Okeyo

I Love You This Much

by Dora Okeyo

Summary:

Leila is alive and in-love with Maxwell; but he’s only some memory, or is he? Nancy loves William. He doesn’t love her though, because he is not the same-not since the accident; and all four are tangled in a web, one that’s created by one of them, will love their love endure?

My Review:

Reading this story was like walking down the streets of Nairobi, meeting people and finding out a bit about their lives.  An exploration behind the stranger seated at the next table sipping coffee while they read through their newspaper.  I loved Leila’s attitude, and how easy it is for her to stand for her beliefs. She is strong and also vulnerable as well. I loved how well Dora describes Leila’s life.  She hangs out with the guys at the club, and also makes the best girlfriend for Nancy.  Nancy describes Leila best, “….She told William one day that if I was a man, she’d get married to me. When Maxwell heard this he nearly broke all the glasses in his house….”

Nancy’s description made me laugh. Often times, you’ll meet a guy,  you like his temperament, and obviously you’re clicking, and you think, this could work.  Two dates, and he decides that as long as you’re not seeing him with the goal of marriage, the relationship is a waste of time. I thought marriage should be about friendship first?  If we can’t even have friendship, how do you jump straight to marriage? I think that’s why I loved Leila’s attitude in this story. Her determination not to compromise who she is and what she’s about.

This is a story about friendship and love, and the struggle to find a balance in this Nairobi city.  In the end, we’re all just wishing for the one to share a happy live aren’t we?

The ending is a fabulous twist best for you to find out when you read this story.

I Love You This Much is available on Smashwords.com for free.

Visit Dora Okeyo’s blog to read more about her.

Download it for your Kindle or Adobe Reader Here.

Do you have a book that needs a review?  Feel free to message me.  Email: ellyinnairobi@gmail.com.