Born in Manchester, England in 1956, Mariska attended Holy Child Secondary School in Cape Coast and St. Mary's Secondary School, Mamprobi. She then returned to the UK and attended Beresford College of English and Commerce, Margate, Kent and later Harrow College of Further Education, Harrow, Middlesex.
Mariska has two sons, one married and living in London, the other attending Golden Sunbeam Montessori School, Adenta, Accra in JSS1. She is a motivational speaker, poet, writer, beautician, fire walker and lover of jazz, blues, reggae and old time highlife.
Five Questions with Mariska Taylor-Darko:
1. How long have you been writing poetry?
I seriously started writing poetry after the death of my husband in 2002. In my period of mourning a spirit was released and poetry poured forth. There is no other way to explain it.
2. Who are your favorite poets? Which poets have most inspired and informed your work?
I have my favourites but the ones I like are Maya Angelou, Mutabaruka, Homer (the Iliad), T.S. Eliot, Ayi Kwei Armah, and Ama Ata Aidoo. I read any poetry that I like and ones that touch me. I also regard Bob Marley as a poet whose works are poems to music. They all inspired me but my work comes from my heart.
3. What do you hope to accomplish with your poetry?
I would love people to read my poetry and feel what I feel and see what I see without even being there. I would like to let black women know that it is all right to mourn, laugh, cry, express themselves and be proud of being black and of their culture and traditions. Men have been expressing themselves in many diverse ways and now women are expressing our feelings.
4. Do you believe poetry can play a role in altering Ghanaian politics? Ghanaian culture? If so, how?
Since we have freedom of speech, one way of hitting the nail on the head without offending is to put it in poetry. Sometimes a point put in rhythm and rhyme can touch a person more than just writing a passage. Poetry should be given an open stage and all politicians invited for a day of enlightenment where poets voice out their feelings but get the message across without pointing fingers at any one person. This would (I hope) cause them to ponder about what they are put in positions of power to do - hear the voice of the people as seen through the eyes of a poet. It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword. A sword can touch one person but poetry can touch millions.
With regards to culture, it is a treasure we have that we must keep and the only way to make people aware of what they have is to put the beauty down in poetry. Of course there are some bad cultural practices that have to be written about too and this awareness will bring on change one day.
5. Why do you think Ghanaian poetry appears to be so dominated by male writers?
In the past poetry was reserved for the intellectual Literature and Language Graduate, and until recently men in the publishing world did not take women seriously. They dominated the arts and women were pushed into the background. Also, Ghanaian women have been afraid to express what is in their hearts. Good poetry is not about the surface things but what is felt deep down. If Ghanaian women were to truly write about life as women, their experiences around them and their experiences with men, there would be a revolution. Women are also sensitive to what people think about them and hold back. I say to women, criticism can not kill. No one but women can tell their stories and it is their stories that present and future generations must hear. Get the pens rolling. And to men - publish your sisters, wives and daughters and you will be surprised what will happen. As the late Dr. Nkrumah said, "The degree of a country's revolutionary awareness may be measured by the political maturity of its women"...
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