Five Questions with Kwadwo Oteng Owusu:
1. What do you do to beat the cold when the sun is not around (other than write poems about it, that is)?
Well, aside from writing about the cold, I am largely attending to various reading materials and assignments on urban planning theories and practices in Europe and the world at large, with its accompanying research demands. I should say that this poem is a summary of my experience one cold winter afternoon in Milan, Italy.
2. In this poem, the speaker casts the sun as an ineffective villain, which attempts to menace us, but only ends up lightening our burdens. This is a wonderful image to me, and reminds me of all the "blessings" in our life which quickly become nightmares if they become too great or too close (oil and oil spills, power and "absolute power", etc.). What inspired you to portray the sun in this way?
The sun is a good gift that nature bestows on humanity. For a long time, I did not appreciate the warmth it gave to my life. Ironically, most folks in Ghana, and Africa at large, believe what I did. Because it stares us in the face every time, we never really wonder for a moment how our land would be if the sun should refuse us its heat in one day. We behave in this manner towards all the natural resources - gold, diamond, timber, oil - taking their presence for granted. This I believe is the reason for the varying and similar behaviours we Africans display towards the natural resources we have. What a wonder it will be, when we wake up one day, and the sun, the gold, the oil, the timber, the diamond, etc. are no more.
3. An intriguing line in this poem is when the speaker says he "hopped for hope and chance". Which came first in this line, the near-rhyme of "hopped" and "hoped" or the image of hopping and "land[ing] on cold feet"? Generally speaking, how big a role does the sound of words play in determining the direction your poems take?
The imagery comes first. This is a description of my current state now - having hopped out of Africa, in pursuit of academic knowledge, only to land in Europe, with this cold environment. The sound effect adds to the visual image created by this line. I hope it worked well.
4. The last time we chatted, you said you'd heard there were other poets around Saltpond, but you hadn't met them yet. Before leaving Saltpond for Italy, did you have any luck locating these mystery poets?
I did not come into contact with any poet or writer during my stay in Saltpond. However, as a poet, the town enabled me to grow and to appreciate the environment within which I live. I miss that small town. Maybe some day, I will meet a poet of Saltpond-origin.
5. What is new in your own writing life? Any new projects or undertakings?
Nothing much really. My focus now is to get through with my academic work but in those deep moments of thought, I certainly do write. I recently submitted some poetry to a foundation in Ghana that intends to do some charity work. I hope my work is good enough to make the final cut.