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. Do you think that poetry can provide a voice for the voiceless, even though most of the most disenfranchised people in Ghana cannot read or write? If so, how?
Spoken word touches all. Poetry can be read by the educated and for the disenfranchised can be narrated either in English or in the local dialects. When a poet uses this form of communication they cover all areas so no one is left out.
2. What share of the plight of grandmothers do you think has to do with sexism (i.e. the fact that they are women) and what share has to do with ageism (i.e. the fact that they are elderly)? How do you think these factors interact to worsen the position of the women you speak of?
I would say 40% for sexism. 30%, for ageism and 30% for being uneducated. I don't think I can say more than that the cocktail of the three definitely makes life hard and worsens their plight.
3. In a recent profile of Vida Ayitah I mentioned that I viewed her as a "poet of witness" - observing and recounting the stories of the people, especially the underprivileged. I think such a title could apply to you, as well - especially when considering this poem. Is being a "witness" a conscious goal for you when you write?
Being a "poet of witness" is not my main intention but whenever I see or observe something that touches me and especially when the voiceless cannot stand up for themselves, I just get the urge to write about it. The words flow easily because I have the photographic image already imprinted in my mind. Like Vida I would say that sensitivity is within us. Thank you for the title.
4. In your last profile, you noted how frustrated you are with the slow movement of Universities in leading the rebirth of poetry in Ghana, and noted that, "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." What are your suggestions for how the "present poets", such as yourself, can take the lead?
During our forum many suggestions were raised and discussed and all of them good. My intention is to set up a poetry-open mic night in my area and I have started putting out "feelers", i.e the venue, the availability of a P.A. System etc. It takes time but I am determined to get it going. So this is my way of taking the lead and not waiting for the Universities. My dream is for the TV and radio Stations to have section for poetry from known and unknown readers and narrators in English and all dialects.
5. Have you embarked on any new writing projects lately? If so, what?
I am still working on my book and have started writing a series of poems on certain negative aspects of tradition. I'm sure to step on peoples toes but what must be said must be said. The truth hurts. But then we also say "the truth shall set you free."
Alternate Email: arabataylord(at)yahoo.co.uk
Websites: African Woman's Poetry, Mariska's MySpace Page