by Mark Chmiel
Jason Makansi shared this post on Facebook to the Arab American Literature Public Group:
I hope members here will take a close look at a new wonderful, unique epistolary novel, Dear Layla: Welcome to Palestine by Mark Chmiel. Dear Layla glides in poetry, prose, and meditation on the intimate and intense “facts on the ground” for Palestinians in their homeland and Americans trying there to help.
This is one of so many morsels which nourished me as I read it (in one sitting, completely unplanned): “I imagine Rachel Corrie in Heaven/Squirming and stunned/Knowing that so many of us/Know her name and not the names/Of thousands of Palestinians/Slain by the same army as she.”
Mark is an activist, teacher, and peace/life mentor in St. Louis. He facilitates regular weekly meetings for folks of all ages to immerse in the issues of our times. After I read Dear Layla, I had to attend his regular meeting the next day just to give him a hug.