Kwaku Darko-Mensah Jr. (aka. Kae Sun) is a Ghanaian born singer, songwriter and poet. He is currently based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He has recieved a B.A. from McMaster University in Multimedia and Philosophy.
Five Questions with Kae Sun:
1. How long have you been writing poetry?
I started writing poems when I was about 16 years old. I wrote songs and random thoughts initially and then gradually drifted toward poetry.
2. Who are your favorite poets? Which poets have most inspired and informed your work?
The first poet that had a real strong impact on me was Nas, a rapper from New York. The imagery in his lyrics got me really interested in using words to create worlds. Then as I got into university I got exposed to some of the greats: Wordsworth, William Blake and also the beat poets Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac. Then a few years ago I got hold of the book, "Poems of Black Africa," a collection of African poetry with poems by Kofi Awoonor, Lenrie Peters, Kwesi Brew and so on. So I would say my influences have been diverse and I find them all equally enjoyable.
3. It seems that your poetry has been influenced both by Ghanaian and Canadian sources. Would you agree with this? If so, to what degree do you feel each source has influenced you?
My poetry has definitely been influenced by both my Ghanaian upbringing and my living in Canada. As human beings in general, and artists specifically, I think we're influenced to a degree by our environment and it naturally seeps through into the creative work we do. I think my Ghanaian influence is stronger in my work since it is the foundation of my personality and the values I hold dearly. My living in Canada has further enhanced my views by exposing me to certain elements of Canadian culture and further expanding my world view.
4. How has your time studying and living abroad changed your perception of your homeland?
My perception of my homeland has shifted a great deal. Being absent from Ghana for quite a bit of time has given me a real appreciation for the culture, the people, the land. I think sometimes when you are immersed in something it is more difficult to appreciate it. Being away has done a lot for me in that sense. Now instead of just complaining about the ills of our society, I tend to want to find ways to help Ghana as much as I can.
5. What do you think can be done to promote Ghanaian literature, and African literature in general, in Canada?
Great question. I think you guys are doing exactly that. I was ecstatic when I found out about the existence of this magazine and the website. I think showcasing quality work with a uniquely Ghanaian perspective and also profiling up and coming poets will show some level of seriousness and dedication, and will go a long way. Keeping the writers inspired and building a self-sustaining literary and artistic community. I think building a similar community in Canada for African writers will be a great start. There is a yearning for the African perspective on things and poetry and the arts is the best way to communicate this perspective.
Contact Kae Sun:
Websites: www.kaesunmusic.com, www.myspace.com/kaesun