CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In 1993, a young Green Beret named Joe Shakeenab sought shelter from the hot sun in the African nation of Somalia. Sitting in his combat fatigues under the shade of a tent, he pulled out a notebook and a pencil and began scribbling a few lines of verse.
“When you’re gone on deployments, that’s the way you go on with yourself, just to maintain your own mind,” he said. “I wrote about what I’d seen and what I thought. I told the experiences through poetry.”
Almost 20 years later, Shakeenab gathered those works together and published them in his recent book of poetry, “Somalia, Moments of Visions and Voices.” At 11:30 a.m., and again at 4:30 p.m., on Aug. 30, Shakeenab will give a reading from his two books of poetry in the Austin Peay State University Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center (Room 120 in the Clement Building). The event is free and open to the public, and a book signing will follow both readings.
“He has a really interesting background, and he’s also an APSU alum,” Henderson Hill, director of the cultural center, said. “I think it’s very important that we as a department, we as an institution, that we support alumni and friends of the institution just as they’ve supported us. And he has been a very strong, positive supporter of the center and the institution.”
Shakeenab will also read from his book “A Widow’s Son, Philosophical Enlightenment,” which uses poetry to explore his experiences growing up without a father. He hopes his works will provide both inspiration and guidance to the young students at the readings because that is his motivation for writing.
“I did 28 years in the military, 20 years in Special Forces,” he said. “I’m blessed. I have all my limbs. A lot of guys get blown up. I’ve actually made it, and I want to help somebody else. You can help these students. And every book I sell at this scheduled event, I’m going to donate that money to the center for their scholarship program.”
For information on Shakeenab, visit his website shakeenab.com.
The Aug. 30 reading is just the first in a yearlong series of cultural events hosted by the center. A listing of upcoming events is available online at http://www.apsu.edu/aacc/calendar-events-0. For more information contact the WNDAACC at (931) 221-712.