Five Questions with K Darch:
1. It's been over three years since you were last profiled on this site! What have you been up to in that time?
I've been completing my MFA, doing some independent journalism through the Vancouver Media Co-op, Megaphone Magazine, and now I'm teaching as part of UBC Creative Writing's Booming Ground program.
2. It's been quite a while now since you last lived in Ghana. What is it about Ghana that keeps you writing about it?
I know that I changed when I was there and I still haven't put together what that's all about. I still have stories I need to tell. And reasons that are pressing, right now, that those stories need to be told.
3. This poem is based out of research you have been doing into Canadian involvement in the Ghanaian gold mining industry. Can you tell us a little about Canada's involvement?
It's estimated that half of the mining capital in the world is raised on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The role of governments' relative to mining is a variable one: the Ghanaian government works hand-in-hand with multinational corporations, whereas the Costa Rican government is fighting the expansion of Canadian mining companies in court. Because the Ghanaian government licenses land to a multinational, individual Ghanaians who have been mining this land themselves for generations are deemed illegal. The illegality of one group depends upon the legality of another. Also, within the span of a few years, Barrick Gold, a Canadian gold mining company, filed suit against a Montreal press, and after that threatened a Vancouver press with legal action because they were publishing a book that was critical of Canadian mining in general, and specifically laid blame on Barrick for the deaths of a number of miners.
While I was reading about this, I found out that my former boss, who ran the NGO I used to work for in Ghana, is married to a man who worked at a Canadian gold mining company. This got me thinking about how humanitarianism can dovetail with, and give social license to, exploitative businesses. It has touched my life in a number of ways.
For those interested in this subjected, I've included some relevant links below:
4. What are your intentions for your research project going forward? Might there be ways for Ghanaians, or Ghanaian poets in particular, to be involved in the future?
One of the concrete intentions to any work around this issue would be to pass bill C300 or bill C354, which would hold the state's feet to the fire, and hold mining companies legally accountable for their abuses.
I'm interested in collaborating with Ghanaian writers to explore the tensions between legal mining and illegal mining. What is the dance between "illegal" Ghanaian mining and "legal" multinational extraction (where Canada has a huge stake)? How does neoliberalism - the dance between governments and companies - shape this border too?
I would like to find a way of redistributing the visibility of these stories; to find out the ways in which multinational corporations are shaping the discourse in terms of legality, sustainability, and social license in order to produce counter narratives; to incorporate statements of Ghanaian miners affected by these licenses and invite them to reflect on the conditions of their illegality.
5. On a lighter note, which "Stop, Collaborate and Listen" song do you prefer? Vanilla Ice's or Ofori Amponsah's?
Ofori Amponsah's version, all the way. But I like Ice's hair carving.