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 currently resides in Accra. She 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.
"The Dancer" was inspired by watching Ohenenana Kwabena I.A. Boakye Yiadom perform.
Five Questions with Mariska Taylor-Darko:
1. A growing number of poets featured on One Ghana, One Voice have, or have begun establishing, websites for their writing. What has having a personal site done for you, and do you have any recommendations to other poets looking to do the same?
Having a personal website has increased my knowledge in the art of preparing presentations for global exposure. It has made me more aware that what I write should be understood not only by one type of person but by people from all over the world. It has given me feedback from far away places and that feedback has made me realize just how interested other nationals are about things happening in Ghana. I would recommend all who can, to set up a personal site. Its best to start with the free sites or Blogger sites and make sure anything you put on it is copyrighted to protect yourself, then the world will be your oyster.
2. How has spending you life living both in England and Ghana informed your perspective of your homeland?
I thank God that I have the privilege to jaunt between the two countries and in fact the more I have traveled away from Ghana the more I have loved Ghana. There are some things that I think we really must sort out and despite the slow development, or none at all in certain areas, I always look on the bright side of life in Ghana. There is a freedom that cannot be compared, and I have a desire to leave something good behind when I join my ancestors.
3. Your poems profiled so far on this site, "Sway" and "The Dancer," deal heavily with the idea of rhythm - both in the rhythm of the poems themselves and in the movements of the subjects described in the poems. How much thought do you put into the rhythm of your poems, and do you see a connection between the rhythm of your writing and the rhythms of Ghana - dances, street life, etc.?
When I write I just close my eyes and recall every detail of things I have seen and put them down as they come to me. I feel the drums, the movement of the feet and the expressions all around in everyday life. Maybe I just live the rhythm because I do not plan what to write, it just comes to me. I love the beauty I see around and I constantly make notes of things that touch me. I see a connection between the rhythm of my writing and the rhythm of what I observe around me. I just "photograph the feeling."
4. You spoke quite a bit in your last profile about poetry being a vehicle with which to communicate feeling. You also seem to have great respect for other arts - in the case of this most recent poem, dance - and their ability to communicate strong emotion. What common bonds do you see between the various arts? What drew you to poetry over other forms of artistic expression?
The effectiveness of communication is both verbal and non-verbal. We have not lost that naturalness of non-verbal communication, although with the strong influence coming from the West, we are likely to loose much of the originality that is so attractive and unique. The communications you see in the written word, the woven basket, the Adinkra cloth, the decorated mud huts, the traditional music, the dance, the movement of the body, the Kente design, and the carvings and paintings, are intertwined with each other - everything sends a message to someone somewhere. These are the common bonds.
I love art but I am not patient enough nor do I have the skill to create something that will touch someones heart the same with all the other arts, so I chose to describe the art of others in a way that would tell the story to touch the heart.
5. In you last profile, you brought up Nkrumah's quote that "The degree of a country's revolutionary awareness may be measured by the political maturity of its women". You also spoke a bit about Ghana's current political woes with misguided and/or corrupt leaders. Do you feel that the quest to fix Ghana's political problems can be lead by women? If so, how? If not, what do you think that says about Ghana's political maturity?
A lot of our political problems could be fixed by women. I would not say that all problems can be fixed, or by all women, but I feel that the sensitivity, patience, understanding and tolerance that women have in general, make us better leaders. We are on par with the men educationally and in many aspects of everyday life the women come out tops, but as long as the majority of men secretly fear the power of women - "a global trait," we will be held back. I can say that 90% of Ghanaian female politicians have delivered, which is more than the men can say for themselves. Ghanaian women are becoming more politically mature and in time we shall see the changes in the country. Women's politics starts from the home, the marketplace, the workplace, the local assemblies and onto the higher areas of governance. Men's politics start from the tertiary environment to a business career and then onto governance. Who gains the most experience on the way?
Alternate Email: arabataylord(at)yahoo.co.uk
Mariska's Past Profiles:
Issue 1.20, August 4th - 10th, 2007