K Darch is an activist, writer and artist who grew up between the military base and downtown Kingston, Ontario. She lived in Ghana for a total of fifteen months over 2006 - 2007. She now lives as a visitor on Coast Salish territory Vancouver, where her recent work explores the connections between colonial history and violence against women. She is currently completing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.
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.
Galamsey operations though not safe, it does not cause much havoc than the larger industries who poison our waters but since they are shielded by their license, sometimes they go free. Galamsey should be properly managed by governments to help the local communities to support.
The poet has written but in a manner which touches on all front of the gold business. well done
I really value this poem for three main reasons, its mode of narration: dramatic monologue, smoldering undertone, and the critical thematic preoccupation of the poet.
The mode of narration is very precise, coming from the horse’s mouth, a galamsey. Dramatic monologue has always been my favourite, it offers great insight into the feelings of the speaker. Indeed, the style of the dramatic monologue, which attempts to evoke an entire story through representing part of it, may be called an endeavor to turn into poetry many of the distinctive features of drama. This time it is very interesting as it comes from the perceived culprits, galamsey.
I compare this poem to Soyinka’s Abiku, as it vividly brings to mind the taunting words of the unremorseful Abiku.
“galamsey, they call us
we are illegal miners”
“we take gold out of the earth
we take and we take it
we were born here in the gold
nothing will make us stop”
“hope, like gold
can be traded
wrested from the ground with mercury
how many rashes and rivers to extract this hope?
hope is a dirty word here
a nugget covered in dirt”
The opening stanza of the poem is charged with an undercurrent of searing sarcasm. Indeed my blood level rises with the heavy irony and vehemence of the poet persona. Every phrase evokes a strong feeling of cynicism and unconcealed disdain for the hypocrisy of government officials, sustainability inspectors and other relevant authorities, who are supposed to checkmate the trend but also take delight in manipulations for their selfish gains.
not the taking
just if you don’t have a permit
her body is the land where all you need is a license
the paper work becomes an extension of the violence
signatures and lines and hands that sign”
From the blunt voice of the incensed narrator it s clear that they are not completely unaware of the dangers and dire consequences of their act but that since it is a free for all take, then least should be expected for their concern as a fallout of their nefarious activities. This is what I call “a fraud for thought.”
Krissy Darch has done a very good job in showcasing such a serious issue with a drop of piercing sarcasm and an unconcealed revulsion for hypocrisy. Through her excellent choice of precise expository, it is very glaring for all to see what goes on behind the scene of feigned concern for accountability. I can just imagine the irony in her voice within the question and answer section, when commenting on the double standards of even some NGO practitioners. This is a clear indication of the insincerity of all the stakeholders as guilty parties.
Where does all this leave the unwary victims of water contamination, mostly children and women? Nowhere, sadly to say.
Krissy, I really appreciate your relentless efforts in this regard. Yes, you have made your point.
I really want you to know that you are not alone in this fight. I also wish to identify with your laudable ideals because you are just like the kind of individuals I wish to identify with. People like you can positively add value to one’s potentials without taking away any individualistic originality. I know that the poet persona mostly takes a greater chunk of the real personality of the poet, and that is just what poets are supposed to be; reviewer of societal false sense of value. Your choice of literary elements is just appropriate for the type of advocacy or front you want to establish. You have hit the nail on the head.
Bravo. Thanks for passing the message across.
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