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Poetry and Prose for Your New Year’s Reading List

The National Herald Archive

Books to add to your reading list, Orthodoxy in Africa by Archimandrite Chrysostomos Onyekakeyah and I Asked the Wind by Valerie Nifora. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

With the holidays in full swing, reading often takes a backseat to parties and the general merriment of the festive season. As the new year starts, however, it is a great time to add to your reading list with new titles and perhaps not so new ones to enrich our experience with poetry and prose. The following books most definitely prove that a tome need not be a lengthy one to offer insights and give us a glimpse of our shared humanity.

Orthodoxy in Africa by Archimandrite Chrysostom Onyekakyah was published in 2011 and offers wonderful insights into the subject and the history of the Orthodox Christian Church in Africa beginning with the arrival of Christianity in Alexandria, Egypt via the Jewish diaspora community and then St. Mark the Evangelist, the founder of the Church in Alexandria. The book includes an impressive timeline of the history of the Church, as well as a helpful chapter titled “What is Orthodoxy?” The glossary of ecclesiastical terminology is also very useful for those interested in the faith and learning more about the specific terms.

Archimandrite Chrysostomos Onyekakeyah is originally from Nigeria and serves large communities and organizes benevolent projects for the elderly and for orphans. He runs St. Christopher's, an orphanage and elementary school in rural Nigeria, under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.

Fr. Onyekakyah recently visited the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Whitestone where he participated in the Divine Liturgy with the presiding priest of the community Fr. George Anastasiou. Following the liturgy, copies of Orthodoxy in Africa were available for purchase and donations were collected for the orphans and for Fr. Onyekakyah’s efforts helping those suffering from HIV/AIDS in Africa. Besides Orthodoxy in Africa, Fr. Onyekakyah has also authored two other books, St. John Chrysostom: The Independent Exiled Genius (2009) and Orthodox Liturgies: A Theological/Catechitical Reflection (2009), and many articles published in international and local journals.

I Asked the Wind by Valerie Nifora is a debut collection of romantic poetry divided into three parts. The author gives voice to the most universal subject, love, in her rhymes. Nifora writes of her book, “This book is about love. It is a collection of my  memories. Fifteen years of love and loss. I remember when I wrote each poem; who I wrote it about; and what I felt when I wrote it. I hope in reading them, that wherever you are in your journey in love, you know that you are not alone.”

About the cover of I Asked the Wind, Nifora writes, “My cousin Elias Grammatikogiannis took this picture. It is outside our mother's house in the village of Kallithea, which is roughly thirty-one miles from Agrinio in Greece. The children are brother and sister. They are holding hands and taking the journey of life together. For me, that is the best depiction of love.”

According to her biography, Nifora was born and raised in New York to Greek immigrant parents. For over twenty years, she has been a Marketing Communications Leader for a Fortune 50. She has served as a ghost writer for several executives and has executed award-winning campaigns using her special gift as a storyteller to inspire.

The above-mentioned books are available online.