Paul Koomson was born in Accra, Ghana. He attended primary schools in Accra and, later, Accra Academy. He then went to the Presbyterian Training College, Aropong Akuapem, where he trained as a teacher. The pursuit of knowledge being his insatiable quest, he moved on to the University of Ghana, Legon, to read for a combined degree in English and History.
Five Questions with Paul Koomson:
1. How long have you been writing poetry?
I wrote my first piece which I considered poetry in 1997. Thus, I have been writing poems for the past ten years.
2. Who are your favorite poets? Which poets have most inspired and informed your work?
Many poets of different generations and nationalities have won my admiration. Shakespeare and Chaucer will forever remain two of my favourite poets. These are poets of generational repute. I see all of Shakespeare’s works as poetry, his plays being, to me, products of an extended exploitation of the power of poetry. Another poet I admire so much is Ezra Pound. Among African poets I have a number of icons. David Diop ranks first. Others include: Kwesi Brew, Kofi Awoonor, John Pepper Clark, and Gabriel Okara. These double as my mentors.
A myriad of poets of African descent have had a tremendous influence on my poetry. Perhaps because of a common origin and shared culture, I take so much inspiration from the doyens of African poetry. These stalwarts of the intellectual revolution on the continent include Diop, Brew, Awoonor, Clark, Atukwei Okai, Leopold Sedar Senghor and Okara. The lines of Ayi Kwei Armah in the novel, ‘Two Thousand Seasons’ are also great lines of poetry. I look up to them as my mentors. My subject matter, style, diction, intention for writing, and many other facets of my work are constantly informed by my contact with the works of these personalities.
My greatest moment as a poet will come when my texts are selected for students to study in school.
3. What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
Writing gives me a feeling of self-fulfilment. I write to keep this sense of fulfilment alive in me. My writing is to teach and inform my compatriots and posterity. It is my utmost desire to contribute massively to the volume of African poetry and African literature in general.
I want to tell everyone that Africans, like all other people, have the requisite intellectual endowment to partake in world intellectual compilations. I am very appreciative of the pioneering work of the icons of African literature. I consider it a duty to contribute to the advocacy for the universal acknowledgement of the equal endowment of all races in every sphere of life. All men are equally endowed with unlimited potentials.
The difference lies in how people utilises their resources. Every individual who passes through this world is a messiah in their own right and must have a clear vision which is geared towards the fulfilment of their mission. To this end, I seek to encourage all Africans to be purposeful in all they do. Africans must be authentic and hold on to their rightful place in the world.
4. How did your involvement in the English program at Legon influence your writing?
Tremendously. Reading English at the University of Ghana gave me a deeper insight into poetry. It also exposed me to a lot of poets and their works which I might not have met yet. A good mastery of the language of communication is a vital tool for every poet. Thanks to my involvement in the English programme at Legon, I have been equipped with that all-important ingredient.
5. Who do you see as Africa's modern scribes?
Africa’s modern scribes comprise all people of African descent – in the diaspora and on the continent of Africa – who feel that inspiration to write. All our young men and women who are literate and who have the needed knowledge base to produce texts of intellectual and academic significance.
Indisputably, all the poets whose poems have made it as the weekly feature on One Ghana, One Voice are some of the greatest Black Scribes of modern Africa.