June 20, 2023

UCalgary English prof hopes to spread awareness about migrant challenges through poetry

Inspired by news reports, Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike's book reflects the experience of leaving one’s home for another
Dr. Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike, sitting, looking into the distance.
Mckenna Layne

In hopes of provoking empathy toward migrants and their journey to their new homes, a University of Calgary assistant professor in the Department of English recently published a new book of poetry. 

Dr. Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike, PhD, winner of the 2021 Provost Award for Indigenous and Black Scholars, was inspired to write his new book, there’s more, after reading news reports of immigrants and refugees dying while trying to get to a new home.  

“It’s about questions concerning home, belonging, diaspora, migration, but more importantly it has to do with community, kinship and the connections we can make when we leave our home to create a home elsewhere,” says Umezurike. “I was haunted by the news of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea and [dying] across the desert.”

there’s more book cover

University of Alberta Press

Umezurike says it’s extremely important to share the stories of marginalized people.  

“Something stories do is to sort of shine a mirror on other people’s experiences and pains and help us to see if we can relate and really think about ways we can alleviate others’ pain, and I think it is important, particularly in this age where there’s so much migrant fatality and death along borders,” says Umezurike.  

Umezurike, who is originally from Nigeria and came to Canada in 2016, has been publishing children's fiction, short fiction and poetry since 2004. He says his best moment in creating his latest book was handing over the manuscript to his editors and being at peace with what he had written.  

“I can now hand it over to someone who can look at it from a more critical and dispassionate perspective,” the author says. “For me, I always look forward to that moment where I no longer have to keep chiselling away or polishing.” 

Umezurike believes stories have great value when it comes to illuminating human understanding.  

“What stories or poetry or even literature does is to call us to really think about the other — regardless of their race, their ethnicity, their religion, their gender, their sexuality or even their class,” says Umezurike. “I think it is important that we recognize that literature has so much to offer, not just only within the walls of the university, outside in communities, in public spaces.” 

Umezurike’s poetry collection, there’s more, is published by the University of Alberta Press and is available online and almost anywhere books are sold. 

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