LaChonta Conley (also known as “Chony”) calls herself an author “by accident.” The native Detroiter and single mother of two DBG students set out to publish her late mother Celeste Lynn Conley’s poetry to help fulfill her mom’s lifelong dream of becoming a published author. In the process, she became an author herself.
Celeste wrote poems throughout her life. Any occurrence could prompt a poem. She wrote when she was happy, sad, satisfied, or in mourning. Writing was a form of therapy and an outlet her. Sadly, she passed away in October of 2011 after suffering a stroke at age 56.
“The book has taken the length of time she has been deceased to come to fruition,” Conley says. “I would be overtaken with emotions of grief whenever I attempted to transcribe her handwritten poetry onto typed documents. Never to be defeated, I would type bit by bit, and almost twelve years later, I am officially an author.”
LaChonta recently held an official book launch and signing at DBG for A Dream Deferred – An Ode to My Mother. The book is a collection of her mother’s poetry, memories, special family recipes, and a soundtrack which readers can access by scanning a QR code.
“There are added journal pages to jot any invoked feelings of the reader,” she explains. “Music and food were an integral part of my home life. I am thankful to say my mother was my friend before she died. We have countless shared times and I tried to encapsulate that feeling in the manuscript.”
In addition to being an author and a dedicated mother, Conley is a limited license social worker who provides services to those who are developmentally challenged and other vulnerable populations. She is a graduate of Detroit Public Schools, Wayne County Community College District, and Wayne State University, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees during the coronavirus pandemic.
Her son is a DBG graduate and a former employee who worked with our kitchen staff. He went on to pursue a career in the skilled trades. Her daughter is currently enrolled at DBG.
“I have actively raised children since I was twelve due to my mother adopting my five nieces, which made them my siblings,” she says. “I went on to become guardian of the younger siblings as well as my mother. I have endured many hardships in life, and I triumphed through education and the sheer will to not allow ‘life’ to beat me down.”
“DBG has truly been a godsend for my family,” she continues. “The provision of transportation, hot meals, tutoring, and community involvement in a safe space lends solace as a single parent striving to be successful.”
A Dream Deferred – An Ode to My Mother can be found online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble (search author LaChonta Conley.) Her next book signing will take place Wednesday, April 19 at 6:30pm at the Detroit Public Library Wilder Branch, 7140 E. 7 Mile Road Detroit.
“This project means so much to me. I want my children to understand that their grandmother was a wonderful person who inspired many. I want them to know they come from a bloodline that is kind, caring, influential, artistic, determined, and goal driven,” she says. “I never envisioned the reception and support I have gotten regarding this project and I want to encourage others to never give up. Everyone has the ability to be the master of their destiny. It is never too late.”
Congratulations, LaChonta, and thank you for all you do!