During the Emancipation Day 2006 at Cape Coast, Antwi’s epic, Nkrabea, was adapted for recitation. Also, it has a regular reading feature at Black History Month - Britain. One of Antwi's poems has recently been published at Phillis Wheatley Chapter.
Five Questions with Darko Antwi:
1. You mentioned in the comment section of last week's OGOV poem that "Thinking aloud..." "shapes itself between" Juanita Tsikata's "Wake Up, I'm Home" and Philip Addo's "A Text Message To My Friend, Jake, Who Died For Their Sake". Could you expand on this observation a bit? How do you think your poem sits between them? And what new territory does it cover that the other two do not?
Whereas Juanita Tsikata's title reviews a case of national identity and cultural deviation as a result of long term emigration, mine takes a preview of the subject. I noticed that the voice in Tsikata's poem makes decisive statements, very opposite to my contemplative rhetorical questions, be they legitimate or not.
Although it does not predict the aftermath of the voluntary movement of people "in the oracles of unseen" chains, Philip Addo's poem views, reports or bears witness to the event. The following lines are expressive: "The lions are marching with ants into pits for grains / The sheep are diving into the sea for fishes / They are going back to the mud."
There is mass movement of skilled/unskilled, legal/illegal Ghanaian immigrants in Europe and elsewhere. Yet settling in another country is not peculiar to Ghanaians, considering the socio-economic advantages and disadvantages that are being reaped globally. So depending on the angle one looks at continental migration, the theme, tone and the mood of the three poems can be compared and contrasted in minute traces.
2. Was "Thinking aloud..." written, at least in part, as a conscious response to similarly-themed poems by other writers, or was it written "independently" (i.e. only sub-consciously in relationship with other poems)?
It's neither of them. I wrote it during a difficult time in London. I had no job for nearly three months. So it's definitely a reflection of opportunities and resources in Ghana versus my jobless state. I never thought of responding to, or bearing relationship with other poems. Anyway, it would have been interesting writing with some sort of conscience other than the explained.
3. How important do you think it is that we as poets "challenge" one another on important issues? Do you think such criticism/debate is best accomplished through prose writing, or through further poems?
Very important. It has to be prose, since it elaborates and could better untie the tight knots of poetry.
4. Earlier this year a poem of yours, "The Burial of Saint Domeabra", was given a close reading by Prince Mensah as part of our "How Poems Work" series. How did it feel to have a poem of yours analysed in this way? Was it useful to you? Did it help you look at your writing, and your writing process, in a new light?
I was excited. I felt honoured. Prince Mensah's detailed work confounds me. It renewed my mind as to the fact that a poem has a message. But it never scared me of playing with words!
5. In a recent comment on the site, you expressed your regret that discussion of OGOV poems is down in 2011. Since we're at the end of the year, with voting currently on for our "Favourite Poems of 2011", what one or two OGOV poems from 2011 do you think should have garnered more attention and discussion from our readers?
The "The Makings of You" Series was a sensation. We could have had a lengthy discussion on Nii Ayikwei Parkes' prodigious output. But we made less out of "The Makings of Ourselves". In October, L.S. Mensah recreated the "Mother of Equiano" and the "Mother of Ikemefuna" for our veneration, but to my disappointment we paid little homage to her courtesy. David Urion's "Arthur Wharton, A Black Star Shines in Space" should have had a rocket discussion, but it lifted-off to nowhere.