Favourite Poems of 2011

Readers' Picks:

portrait of a lotto prophet as savior of the people by Prince Mensah (Issue 5.38, September 24th - 30th, 2011)
Comments on portrait of a lotto prophet as savior of the people:

"Time is very important in this poem, and I like how Mensah uses the temporal divisions (Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow) to point up the inevitability of the people's fate. By fixating on immediate material needs, they condemn themselves to exploitation when they, like the refrain, dwell only in the present. The Lotto Prophet is the Pied Piper, this time he punishes the people for the mistake of wanting more, ironically, by taking what little the people possess. It could be applied to the present financial crisis." - L.S. Mensah

"When two or three lines in a poem stick to your memory, when you love to read that poem again and again, then that poem has some qualities that cannot be measured. An example of that poem is Prince Mensah's "portrait of a lotto prophet as savior of the people"" - Darko Antwi

A Text Message To My Friend, Jake, Who Died For Their Sake by Philip Addo (Issue 5.50, December 17th - 23rd, 2011)
Comments on A Text Message To My Friend, Jake, Who Died For Their Sake:

"I love the poem because it touches on a very sensitive issue: "Slave trade in our modern time." I think I adore the poem. - Molai Addo

"Well done to Philip Addo for his amazing poem." - Darko Antwi

Forgotten Heroes by Martin Elorm Dogbo (Issue 5.45, November 12th - 18th, 2011)
Comment on Forgotten Heroes:

"This poem's theme is very universal. The sad songs of “Forgotten Heroes” are sung in every language of the world, but it was handled with poetic artistry by Martin Dogbo with such melancholic undertones that pluck on emotional strings."
- Dela Bobobee

Staff Picks:

Mother of Ikemefuna and Mother of Equiano by L.S. Mensah
(Issues 5.42 - 5.44, October 22nd - November 11th, 2011)
Comments on Mother of Ikemefuna and Mother of Equiano:

"L.S. Mensah does a great job by writing about two mothers of two characters; one fictional (Ikemefuna) the other actual (Equiano). Both men were slaves; Ikemefuna in another neighboring tribe, Equiano in another foreign nation. "Mother of Ikemefuna" executes an excellent juxtaposition of death and life against a background of hollow traditions. Ikemefuna's mother speaks, as a microcosm of women in stagnant cultures. In "Mother of Equinano", the mother is a collector of memories, a woman whose small heart has enough space to contain all the places her lost son had ever stepped on." - Prince Mensah

"What a treat it was to feature this pair of poems by L.S. Mensah. "Mother of Equiano" in particular, especially that cracking ending, has haunted me more than almost any poem featured on OGOV to date. And in addition to the poems, L.S. is one of the most thoughtful and generous interviewees we've ever had (see here for yourself). What more can we ask for?" - Rob Taylor

Thinking aloud, while sipping palmwine in England by Darko Antwi (Issue 5.52, December 24th - 30th, 2011)
Comments on Thinking aloud, while sipping palmwine in England:

"In compelling diasporan mode, Darko Antwi pulls the strings of nostalgia to the notes of change (or vice versa). As he sips palmwine in England, the poet makes a clear statement that he refuses to drink English alcohol and, ironically, it is the only thing in his culture that still tastes right. Using the backdrop of rain, the poet muses about home, about the sheer simplicity and sensuality in the way of life. Amidst all that, there are serious issues that have managed to morph themselves into normalcy. Issues that continue to undermine the progress of society. Darko captures questions that run in the diasporan state of mind: is home still the same way I left it? Are people still dependent on rain (a euphemism for external factors) to make important decisions about their lives? " - Prince Mensah

"This poem is rich with images of home. Heavy with them. They spill from it like rain from the "pelvis of the roof". You can feel the weight of it all as you read. You can feel the ache. Beautiful stuff." - Rob Taylor

Ayitey, 1973 by Nii Parkes (Issue 5.10, March 5th - 11th, 2011)
Comment on Ayitey, 1973:

"As with many year-end awards, poems published on OGOV near the end of the year tend to get more attention than early-year poems that have slipped from our collective memory. This often leads to wonderful poems being overlooked, something which cannot be allowed to happen for the poems in Nii Ayikwei Parkes' "The Makings of You" series. "Ayitey, 1973" stands out in particular, weaving its web between Accra and London, Vietnam and 9/11, George Foreman and Bruce Lee, Picasso and Nas. And Neruda leaning over it all. It is a mesmerising poem." - Rob Taylor
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