Kwadwo Kwarteng is a young contemporary Ghanaian writer who thinks of poetry as a masterpiece of knowledge painted in different shades of words on a canvas.
He is resident in Ghana and currently works with the Accra Institute of English Proficiency (AIEPro).
Five Questions with Kwadwo Kwarteng:
1. How long have you been writing poetry?
I've been writing poetry for about 2 years.
2. Who are your favorite poets? Which poets have most informed and inspired your work?
My favourite poet is Langston Hughes. However, the following have influenced my writing to some extent: Maya Angelou, Kwesi Brew, Wole Soyinka, John Pepper Clarke and playwright Ebo Whyte.
3. What do you hope to accomplish with your poetry?
I hope to inspire other creative writers, inform readers and inculcate the love for African culture and humanity as a whole. I believe African culture, despite its idiosyncrasies, has a lot in common with other cultures around the world. That is why I don't believe in racism or any such chauvinistic ideologies. I hope my writing will elaborate on that.
4. How important are Akan belief and history to your writing?
The Akans are the largest ethnic group in Ghana. They constitute about 45% of our population and have seared their mark on our history. Their history, folklores, belief systems and culture may seem like fairytales to most modern Ghanaians, but I believe there are some truths and lessons to be learned from many of these legends.
Our ancestors erred in passing precious information orally from one generation to the other without documenting them. That is why stories about Okomfo Anokye, Yaa Asantewaa, Tweneboa Kodua, among others, have become myths instead of history. I am not a strict adherent of Akan traditional beliefs. I only intend to retell forgotten stories, hopefully passing on our moral values to the present generation and posterity.
5. Do you think poetry can help keep Akan culture alive and thriving? If so, what role do you think contemporary English-language poetry, such as your poem here, can play?
Poetry offers a kaleidoscope of perspectives to any subject. This unique quality enables it to say different things to each reader. Though poetry is given little publicity in Ghana, it is still possible to communicate through this art. Indeed, Akan culture will be given a new lease to life if more poems were written about it.
Since English is a widely spoken language, contemporary English poetry that is easy to read and understand, will allow Akan culture to transcend the boundries of Ghana to many countries all over the globe.