Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Writer's Megaphone shouts out author, entrepreneur and humanitarian, Emlyn DeGannes

The media has been guilty of reporting news that may be disconcerting, heartbreaking if not downright shocking.  We are reminded that we live in a imperfect society.  We are also reminded that the depths of the human spirit can sink to all time lows, and just when we think that it can't sink any lower, we will receive a report that proves that indeed it can.

I use this platform as a means to give a little bit of exposure to authors, poets and entrepreneurs that might otherwise not have the opportunity to let the literary community know about their work.  I use this forum to bring a 'human' side to the people of the industry because I know that it is very much needed.

Today, I bring to you author, entrepreneur and humanitarian, Emlyn DeGannes.  She owns a bookstore located in Claymont, Delaware that goes by the name of MeJah Books.  She is also the owner and proprietor of ANU Direction Publishing and it is through her own publishing company that she released her novel entitled, "Letters To Ms. Em."  It is within the pages of this work that you find that she forged an unlikely friendship with an inmate doing life in prison.  Told through a series of letters, Ms. DeGannes tells the story of 'Rainn', the inmate who admittedly made some wrong choices and is now paying dearly for them.  Please see the formal review located at the bottom of this piece.

Ms. Em

Emlyn DeGannes true passions does not lie in her publishing business nor does it reside in her writings.  Her true passions are quite visible in the work that she does in and around her community.  Her heart goes out to the disenfranchised; especially the children.  Knowing that many children didn't have a place to go to read and consequently learn, she created MeJah Books as a safe haven so that they could do the one thing that would ensure that they would have a fighting chance in a society where the rules are stacked against them.  She gave them a place to read.  I will not continue to bore you with the many accolades that I can give Ms. DeGannes; or whom some people have come to know as Ms. Em.  Instead, I will let her tell you who she is and what she is about!

JLW:   Would you mind telling the readership the history behind your book, "Letters to Ms. Em?"

EG: The history behind my book “Letters to Ms. Em” can take one down many different roads in life.  The book tells of a young man’s choice...in this case, a misguided choice; the broken family structure, a topic you wrote so vividly about in your novel “Bruthas” showing the lifeline of civilization; the loss of a life because of his misguided choice; a life sentence in prison, accepting his responsibility, designing his rehabilitation plan for redemption.  Along the way he was given a new family which further brought about his transformation and led him to a new way of living; living with compassion and love and experiencing the rewards which were love and respect of his children and many others who were touched by his poems and letters to me.

JLW:  You are known in the Wilmington, Delaware area as the local humanitarian.  What are some of the outreach efforts that you have participated in and what impact has it had on you?

EG:  Some of my outreach efforts in the city of Wilmington, Delaware are too many to mention.  I live my life based on compassion and as we all know, many individuals are walking around suffering.  I encounter people every day with a challenge; at time I have the solution and at time all I am supposed to do is to listen.  I am most proud of my relationship with the younger generation-the hip hop generation.  I love their energy and they need the most direction and dialogue.    I love sharing my time with the detention centers:  Ferris and Grace Cottage, I share my time with inmates from Gander Hill, Graterford prison who have requested a visit.  I also have shared five year of my life with girls from Wordsworth Treatment Facility.  I truly cannot remember all of my contributions but I will say that the time that I shared was necessary.  My work is in direct correlation to why I was placed on earth.  I am living my vocation and daily I am still discovering and sharing my talents.

JLW:  Out of all of the projects that you have undertaken, which one of them stands out first and foremost to you and why?

EG:  Out of all  the project I have undertaken, the one that stand out front and foremost is the relationship I have developed with Rainn in “Letters to Ms. Em.”  I gained a brother, a friend, a new niece and nephew; a better understanding as to how I can better help children of domestic violence; living with parent behind bars.  Most of all I understand that not all prisoners are bad people and many people are not responsible enough to break the cycle so the cycle continues.  This undertaking has also allowed me to use Rainn’s experience as a lesson to teach the younger generation about choices and to use his life experience as an intervention and prevention measure.

JLW:  What drives you? 

EG:  What drives me is the feeling I experienced when I first arrived in America at age 13.  It was the feeling of being alone amidst the opportunity my mother struggled to provide for me and my siblings.  I always wanted to do the right thing because my mother always did the right thing.  My mother was my hero and she gave me the determination to always keep it moving, no matter what.   I will forever continue the drive of compassion in honor of my Mom; it hasn’t failed me.    

JLW:  Tell us a little bit about your bookstore, "MeJah Books?"

EG:  My business MeJah Books, Inc., has been a part of my life and the community for fifteen years.  That’s a long time!  I don’t take credit for its longevity; it is the expression of the community and the many people who have found a sense of peace at the bookstore.  It is located at the Tri-State Mall in Claymont Delaware.  Check us out on the website www.mejahbooks.com or visit us and experience what I am talking about.  It has definite been a journey in maintaining a bookstore in a time where technology is trying to “kick us to the curb” but it is so much better to have a conversation with a friendly face than a hand held device.  This is what MeJah Books stands for: community, communication, literacy, sharing, service, diversity, culture and of course laughter, along with a cup of tea or coffee.  What more can you ask for? 

To learn more about MeJah Books, please visit the website at:

To read the formal review of 'Letters To Ms. Em' click on the link below:

~J.L. Whitehead



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