Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah has spent most of his adult life at Winneba. He was for a short time an assistant editor of a daily newspaper, and has been a long time mathematics and science teacher. He has practised poetry and art his entire life. His poetry has been accepted and appeared in international literary magazines and journals in Australia, UK, Scotland, Japan, and other countries. He is currently the editor of a weekly newspaper, Focusview, which has a poetry page to promote traditional, modern, and contemporary poetry writing, reading and performing in Ghana.
Five Questions with Jacob:
1. How long have you been writing poetry?
I have been writing poetry for the past 19 years.
2. Who are your favorite poets? Which poets have most informed and inspired your work?
My favorite poets are John Donne, Robert Browning, William Carlos Williams, e.e. cummings, Frank O'Hara, Joseph Brodsky, Dennis Brutus, Taban Lo Liyong, Syl Cheney-Coker... and recently, Issa, and Ban'ya Natsuishi. All of them have informed and inspired my work through their individualism and bringing poetry to the most art form.
3. What do you hope to accomplish with your poetry?
To perform with Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, and Romas.
4. Growing up, what was your vision of Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe was and is still a beautiful country filled with vibrant writers who hold the tension, hold the energy.
5. What is your vision of Zimbabwe now? Has it changed from your vision growing up? If so, how?
Zimbabwe has a future because Zimbabweans have willpower, the beauty and truth, needed to live full life. The writers, including Charles Mungoshi (I love his short stories collection, The Setting Sun and the Rolling of the World) Solomon Mutswairo, Chirikure Chirikure, and others the forefront who candle the country's aspiration. Even the memories of Dambudzo Marechera live on. My vision for that country is stronger and brighter than before. I have described my vision of Zimbabwe in a short poem inspired by haiku:
The unbroken line
scattered stone plants