The first time I learned about Shakespeare I was at Christ the King College in Bo, Sierra Leone. Before that time, the only literature I had read was “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and the Bible. I had already sung and acted in a few churches plays. If I might add, when it comes to epic folklore, the Bible is a treasure trove.
I discovered Shakespeare in a literature class where we read, “The Merchant of Venus” and “Julius Caesar.” I was floored! The following year when we studied “Romeo and Juliet” I was in full curiosity mode. I wanted to know everything there was to know about the art of playwrighting. “Macbeth” was the crown jewel for me.
I discovered Shakespeare in a literature class where we read, “The Merchant of Venus” and “Julius Caesar”.
When our curriculum included, “Things Fall Apart” and some interesting Pacesetter novels such as, “Christmas in The City” and “Meet Me in Conakry.” I enjoyed the other literature books, but I was stuck on Shakespeare. I spent my time looking for other Shakespeare books and was soon overwhelmed by how many there are.
I had it so bad, I would quote lines from his books and plead for a part in his play. There are elements of his style of dialogue, plot, betrayal, and conclusion in some of my work. As I read his books, I wanted to write my own. At the time it seemed impossible to envision me as an author. The one thing I was not afraid to do was to dream.
After reading a slew of Shakespeare books, while living in The Gambia, I stumbled on “The Client.” I was immediately captivated by his style. As a huge John Singleton fan, I wanted that “My Cousin Vinny” type of law vs. crime drama, and I was experimenting with some melodramatic Shakespeare influenced materials of my own. The first time I read “The Client” I was upset for a week. The kid, his mom, his younger brother and the cheap lawyer.
As a huge John Singleton fan, I wanted that “My Cousin Vinny” type of law vs crime drama and I was…”
John Grisham has a unique ability to make a fictional story feel real. I could not tell you where I got his books from. Something tells me, friends who knew I was genuinely interested in his work, slid them in my path. All of a sudden I was reading “The Firm,” “A Time to Kill” and “The Street Lawyer.” Grisham became my favorite modern author. I was influenced by his crime themes and the savvy sarcasm in his humor. I incorporated some of that essence in my work.
Rev. Leroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu
Growing up as a boy, my father was revered among his peers as an avid writer. It’s often said that he’s blunt with the pen. Later on, when he wrote me a letter, it was not sugar-coated. I heard he used to be a school principal. He then became a lecturer and then a reverend. Our relationship was not the best since he ran a strict household and I was loud and playful with a free spirit. Above all, my younger sister is his idol. She got her way until we disagreed and then I’d break her spell which then infuriated him. However, he is a great collector of books, magazines, and newspapers.
As I grew older, I began to admire his writing style. We never got to spend much time but when he was in a good mood he often had a tale from the old days.”
Often being sentenced to the doghouse, I spent the timeout reading a book from his sacred collection. That’s until he catches me and takes it away. As I grew older, I began to admire his writing style. We never got to spend much time, but when he was in a good mood, he often had a tale from the old days. His narrative style, his choice of books and newspapers, helped me to get a great sense of political and religious awareness. They were mostly religious literature, political articles, or sports reviews. That and later reading articles from his website led me to understand his journalistic sense. I developed a reporter’s tone.
I met Ken as a host on his radio show called “Asylum For Your Soul” while promoting my first album. He heard my story and invited me for an interview. This was when Myspace was an independent artist’s default website. I showed up for the meeting, and afterward, we got to talking. He mentioned that he’s a publisher and I said I write a little. I asked if he would publish my material and he said write your story. Needless to say how excited I felt. Six months later I was back with a manuscript.
I started learning the publishing aspect of literary writing. I learned how to design illustrations for books, CDs and even album covers and flyers.”
After some back and forth editing “My Book of Chrymes” was published and my revamped album was its accompanying music. Canada was good to me! Here, I could be me. I had performed all over the city, some radio stations played my songs, and now I was a published author? What’s next? Well, Ken gave me the confidence to go a step further than writing. I started learning the publishing aspect of literary journalism.
I learned how to design illustrations for books, CDs, and even album covers and flyers. Learned how to create and host a website and, above all, how to publish books. Ken later publish my second and third books off his Soul Asylum Poetry and Publishing company. We became great friends, worked together on several philanthropic projects, earned a Grammy nomination and established our brand within a large community of many gifted authors and poets.
This is where poetry comes to play. This author gives me balance. Consider the brilliant dialogue and drama that is predisposed by Shakespeare. The crime against law thrillers that are peppered in that sarcastic John Grisham humor, the religious, political and journalistic inspiration from my father and Ken’s philanthropic energy, Maya Angelou brings balance with her down to earth family values, social conscience, and soul.
My upcoming book, “Written in Gold” is my first poetry collection but even though it’s heavily influenced by Maya Angelou, it’s written in Shakespearean English.”
She also opens the door to the spoken word. The exciting thing about my influences is, I’m naturally a melodramatic crime story author, but my first four publications are based on history and biography. As a poet, it’s interesting how I haven’t published poetry yet. Some people view the lyrics in my books as poetry, but to me, they fall under music.
My upcoming book, “Written in Gold” is my first poetry collection but even though it’s heavily influenced by Maya Angelou, it’s written in Shakespearean English. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read or memorized “Still I Rise,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Phenomenal Woman” or “Alone.” Maya Angelou is not only my favorite poet of all time she adds feminine consciousness to my journey. She reminds me of Rosa Parks and Toni Morrison. Every author should write poetry even if it’s not their genre.*