Born in Manchester, England in 1956, Mariska attended Holy Child Secondary School in Cape Coast and St. Mary's Secondary School, Mamprobi, Accra. 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. She has a PhD in Life.
She has two sons, Niinoi and Kwame. 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. "Overseas" uses rhyme sporadically. What is your general opinion on rhyme in poetry, and why did you choose to use it as you did here?
I feel that the use of rhyme makes words flow and gives a feel to the words. When I was writing I felt it made it easier on the ear. I didn't plan it, it just happened, and I took advantage of it.
2. "no money to send, but you do it anyway," is a very powerful line. Could you discuss it in more detail? Have you experienced such a situation yourself?
Africans who do a lot of low paid work overseas know what it is like when they work three jobs, pay tax, transport, accommodation, food and clothing, etc. and at the end of the day they have just enough to keep their heads above water, yet at the end of each month they become overdrawn on their bank accounts just to send money home to their family (children's fees, parents hospital bills, etc.). How can they explain that they are working and yet broke? The families will call them selfish and never fully understand even if they try to tell them.There is no compassion when a person comes back home with nothing to show for his or her time spent abroad.
I think that nearly everyone working and studying abroad has experienced a situation where demands from home have been made at a time when finances were tight.
3. Having experienced life "overseas" and now back living in Accra, how do you treat fellow Ghanaians who return from elsewhere differently than you would have in the past?
I understand them better now that I am older as well. I know that their frustrations abroad can have an effect of their behaviour. Some are arrogant because they want to create an impression now that they have been abroad, some are impatient, because things work at a slower pace and are less organised, some are tight fisted because they know how hard they worked for their money and wont give it out easily, some are afraid to resettle because of the fear of the unknown and the absence of a social structure that would cushion them when times get hard. I don't see them as the rich "johnny come home".
4. This poem echoes in many ways the sentiment of "Animal" by Prince Mensah, featured on this site last year. Did "Animal" have any influence on your writing "Overseas"? If so, how?
Overseas was written in 2004, long before I read "Animal", but when I read Prince's poem I immediately understood where he was coming from.
5. In our last round table discussion, you mentioned that "The Universities should invite outsiders to participate in events regardless of their educational background." Do you feel that the Universities right now are too insular, and don't effect the community enough? Likewise, do you feel that the Universities need to play a central role in the rebirth of poetry in Ghana?
I do feel that the Universities are very insular. They stick to themselves and the only time you hear of events involving non-graduates is when a corporate body is organising an event, or when their Arts department is having a showing of plays. Participation of "outsiders" is a very rare thing. They keep their knowledge within instead of imparting it without.
They should play a role in the rebirth of poetry through the professors and graduates of this fine art, but at the same time I think the present poets should be the ones to play a central role. The freelancers, the untrained and the lover of poetry and verse are very important, too.
Alternate Email: arabataylord(at)yahoo.co.uk
Websites: African Woman's Poetry, Mariska's MySpace Page
Mariska's Past Profiles:
Issue 1.30, October 14th - 19th, 2007
Issue 1.20, August 4th - 10th, 2007