Kohima: Dear God, a collection of 58 poems written by 35-year-old teacher Neitele Mero, was formally released by Rev Dr Neingupe Chiero, Senior Pastor, Pfutsero Town Baptist Church (PTBC), in Pfutsero town of Nagaland‘s Phek district on Friday evening.
The launch of Dear God marked Nagaland-based PenThrill Publication House’s 40th book release ever since it started in 2013.
During the launch, Mero, who has been writing since she was 15 years old, expressed that writing has always been a cathartic experience for her. “I find solace in unloading my aches and dwelling on my joys by writing imaginary letters to my Diary, to self, to others, and above all, to God,” she said.
She said the poems in the book are extracts from the pages of her diary written over a decade. She added that a few, especially the first ones, are as old as 2006, and a others as recent as 2020. “It is my prayer that the book will give healing, pleasure, peace, and joy to the readers,” Mero said.
Neitele Mero currently teaches at Baptist Theological College, Pfütsero and loves nature, gardening, and tinkering. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature from Nagaland University and a Bachelor of Christian Studies (BCS).
Releasing the book, Senior Pastor Rev Dr Neingupe Chiero, commented that the book contains simple and beautiful lines that cover a lot of profound thoughts. He said that Dear God will give a glimpse of the poet while congratulating Neitele Mero on her debut book.
Publisher Vishü Rita Krocha, who virtually addressed the gathering, said: “This is the first time we are launching a book in Pfütsero and I can’t be more excited that PenThrill has come closer home because I am also from Phek district.”
Krocha hoped that this will be the beginning of many book journeys in Pfütsero town and all across the district. Despite people commenting that “poetry does not sell”, she said that it has never stopped the publication from publishing poetry collections.
Looking at the interest among rising poets in the state, Krocha said: “I believe poetry is here to stay with us. I would go on to the extent of saying that poetry is our very way of life.”
Although Nagas come from the oral tradition of literature, she said that based on how the ancestors lived and passed down stories, there has always been a “strong element of lyrical expressions”.
“Our forefathers sang for almost every occasion — when they tilled the land or receive a bountiful harvest, when they celebrated a festival or the birth of a newborn just as much as they mourned the death of a loved one in songs,” said Krocha.
By writing poetry and preserving the oldest form of literature, she looked forward to the legacy of storytelling that brewed in old Naga traditional homes.
Saying the last poetry book released in Kohima became a best seller, she said that for a poetry collection, this was something that has never happened before.
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“Money has never been our end goal—in our initial years of publishing, there were times I didn’t have enough money to print the book we were working on; or times when some book titles remained in the same shelf in bookstores for years altogether, but these were never reason enough to keep me from carrying on with my dream of publishing the works of the young Naga aspiring writers,” Krocha said.
With the release of Dear God, Krocha hoped that literature and the culture of reading in Nagaland may grow. “May we preserve our stories—and if we do in all sincerity, our stories will live on for our children and their children, for many years and generations to come,” she concluded.
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