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. Did this poem come to you immediately during or after a storm, or were the images pulled from memory?
The poem actually came after the storm "the loss of my husband". I think it was about two months after the event and these words just came to me.
2. A major theme of this poem is dealing with living in a state of uncertainty and unknowing: "What was the purpose of the storm? We will never know". For you, how much of the process of writing a poem is about becoming comfortable with a state of unknown - being comfortable with not knowing where the poem comes from or where it is going?
The poem is a catharsis - a cleansing process. I am sure most will agree that healing comes through different mediums.
3. You participated in Laban Hill's video archive project, reading your poem "I Love Ghana". How did you find that experience, and how do you believe we can best use such an archive to promote Ghanaian poetry?
First of all I must say Laban Hill is a very approachable person and I am sure he made many nervous poets relax. The experience was a learning one - How to read in public in all situations - my chair kept swinging the wrong way and we just continued filming. If it is publicised more, and promoted more, other poets around the world will come to appreciate what Ghana has to offer which is a lot. If possible there should be a follow up. The film should not be "archived"!
4. In a recent Roundtable Discussion on how poets can contribute to peaceful election, you noted: "Poets in Ghana do not have a strong voice yet but what we can do is talk about peace and corruption during recitals." "After the Storm" seems to me to comment on a number of elements of life, including politics, in an allegorical way. This is a strong contrast to last week's poem by Julian Adomako-Gyimah, which deals with its issues very directly. When it comes to Ghanaian poets spreading a messsage about "peace and corruption", which strategy - the more direct or the more metaphorical - do you think is more productive?
Both ways are productive. You can touch different people in different ways. Some may find the more direct approach a bit threatening - like disturbing their comfort zone while others who are more militant may love it. Likewise the more sensative ones would like a more subtle indirect approach while hitting the nail on the head.
5. In your last profile, you noted that you were working on "a series of poems on certain negative aspects of tradition". Have you been making progress on this? Have you been finding any resistance from people who don't want you discussing difficult or taboo subjects?
I have written a couple more but I must say getting some people to talk about certain experiences was hard, more so with the elderly women, and I had to keep reassuring them that i would not mention their names. It is not going to be an easy task. It seems like it is a taboo to talk about about taboos.
Alternate Email: arabataylord(at)yahoo.co.uk
Websites: African Woman's Poetry, Mariska's MySpace Page