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‘I just refused to waste what I learned’

AHOSKIE—The trials and tribulations that come with life are only negative when you let them be.

That is the message poet Mildred Lee West hopes to send to those who read her work.

On Saturday, a book signing was held in West’s honor at the Kingdom Resources Christian Bookstore on Memorial Drive.

West’s book of improvisations and poems is entitled “Flashes of Life” and reflects on bits and pieces of the Ahoskie native’s life.

“It’s flashbacks of real life with a little bit of humor,” she said.

West, a nurse by trade for 29 years, said she first discovered her love of writing while taking required classes for an associate’s degree in nursing.

During her psychology and English courses, West said she “tapped into something” and the end of those classes she didn’t want to squander her effort.

“I just refused to waste what I learned,” she said.

West set about writing and compiling her poems with end result being “Flashes of Life,” which was finished in September 2008.

The poet took it a step further by self-publishing the book with Xlibris Publishing. Her book can now be found on popular web sites like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

West said she chose to focus on poetry because she’s always loved rhyming words and rhythms the genre can offer.

“I’m not quite ready for that,” she said about penning a full length story.

At the book signing, West was joined by her family, friends and fans, who shared their favorite poems by reading them out loud.

“It’s great, I’ve gotten a lot of response and e-mails, especially here (in Ahoskie),” she said when asked about feedback to her poems. “Everyone seems to be really inspired.”

West is particularly impressed with the reaction from young people. She said her poem “Who’s playing the Music?” seems to be popular with younger readers.

Though busy promoting “Flashes of Life” and continuing work as a nurse, West said she is preparing to publish a second book of poetry, “Just Feel Like Talking,” in November.

In the end, West hopes to inspire and encourage her readers with her writing.

“The trials and tribulations of life are bad if you let them be,” she said. “They can be a good thing.”

To contact West or purchase a copy of “Flashes of Life” call (252) 332-5294. Copies of the book are also available on www.xlibris.com.