New Mainers, New Authors

On the first Saturday each month, Brenda Buchanan, Mary Brooking, Laura Kilmartin and I host Books in the Brook at Continuum in Westbrook. I’ve blogged about it before. We’ve had phenomenal authors, including many bloggers on this site, read from their work. This past Saturday, we did something a little different. We invited students from Westbrook High School to read. Six students came and blew us away.

They are all recent immigrants to Maine and they wrote of their journeys to Maine and their dreams for the future. Several had been in Maine for less than a year. Many had harrowing stories, including a bomb placed in a car or having to choose between escaping with their father or staying with their mother who hadn’t received a visa yet.

Imagine for a moment being a teenager, uprooted from your homeland because of violence and fear, struggling to learn a new language and new culture, facing prejudice and fear on top of all the angst and difficulties inherent in being a teenager anywhere. Now imagine that instead of crawling into a hole, as I might, you find the courage to tell your story. And not just to your friends or a supportive teacher, but in front of a room of strangers like these kids did at Books in the Brook.

They are amazing and Westbrook and Maine are lucky to have them.

WHS Students at Books in the Brook

Jossy Nsenga reading Discovering the New Me

Alhawrra Kareem reading Journey to the New World

Omar Abduljaleel and Doaa Al Bayati, who read You are Human and One Street Away

Zainab Almatwari reading The Transform Plate between LA and Sacramento.

Ahmad Qasem reading Journey.

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9 Responses to New Mainers, New Authors

  1. C.T. Collier says:

    This is awesome! Wish I’d been there. It’s so good to see their pictures and experience it through your eyes. Thanks, Brendan.

  2. Lea Wait says:


  3. L. T. Bart says:

    How empowering it must have been for them. Thanks for sharing.

  4. John R. Clark says:

    Pretty amazing. I’m a firm believer that in order for Maine to survive, we should encourage immigrants to come here. Thanks for highlighting these teens.

  5. Barb Ross says:

    What a great program!

  6. I was impressed both by the quality of the students’ work and their ability to read with such poise. They are so talented and brave on many levels. It was a moving afternoon for those of us fortunate enough to meet them and hear their voices.

  7. MCWriTers says:

    Brendan & Brenda…any chance we could feature some of their works at Maine Crime Writers…? That would be such a cool way to introduce their writing and remind everyone of the importance of writing as a way of pulling readers into different worlds.


  8. Sandra Neily says:

    Wow! that was great. Inspirational and a reminder of how generosity like you and your writer friends offer, reaches into the less well-lit parts of our world…to light it up. Thank you.

  9. A.K. says:

    It was a great experience sharing our stories and hearing back from our audience!! Thank you so much for giving us your time and hearing from us. We appreciate your support and comments and hope to do it again.

    Thank you.

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