Nana Fredua-Agyeman is a Ghanaian poet who has been writing poetry for the past decade. Some of his poems have been published in Ghana Today International, Africa Resource (at www.africaresource.com and www.africaknowledgeproject.org) and the upcoming Ghana Poetry Project. He has a prepared manuscript titled ‘BLACK PATHOLOGY’, which he hopes to get published one day. In 2006 he discovered Haiku and have had some of his Haiku been published in America, Ireland, Japan etc in magazines such as Frogpond, Acorn, and The Heron’s Nest and at many e-zines such as SimplyHaiku and Shamrock.
Five Questions with Nana Fredua-Agyeman:
1. When you write, what is the primary audience you consider yourself to be writing for? Yourself? Your friends? Ghanaians? A global audience?
I mostly do not write for myself and even when I address myself in my poems I do so in the plural (even if I use the word ‘I’) signifying humanity in general. Hence, I would say I write for a global audience though sometimes I try to be a Ghanaian.
2. You mentioned in your last interview how important it is to you to perform your poems. Do you get many opportunities to perform your work in public? If so, in what venues?
This is an interesting question. I wish I could perform my poems the way I want them to be performed. I would love to but at the moment I have not and there are certain inward inhibitions that have prevented me from this, but things would change soon. Presently, I read to an audience and my main audience had been the members of the Ehalakasa Poetry Talk Party. This Poetry Club is a vibrant one based in Accra and we meet once every fortnight on Sunday at the Nubuke Foundation, an art gallery building by one of Ghana’s most prominent artists Kofi Sertodji. We hope to define the Ghanaian poetry scene.
3. If you could change one thing to improve the poetry scene in Ghana, what would it be?
Lack of, or poor, exposure. We have a lot of talents, some very good, others not so good. But what is lacking is the exposure of these works to a larger population. It is when people read and criticize one’s work that one begins to appreciate the impact of one’s work and then improve upon it. Most of the time poetry in Ghana has been from poet to poet. The publishing industry is not so keen in publishing poetry, hence we have to rely on people and presses like Mensa Press, Ghana Poetry Project and other websites for us to be heard. Yet aren’t poems meant to address issues and change circumstances? If this is to be achieved we would need to reach out to a larger audience and this would require bold steps by publishers.
4. You have noted in the past your interest in Haiku. What is it about the Haiku form that interests you?
Haiku is a Japanese poetry that developed many years ago and entered English not so long ago. It has two parts: a phrase part and a fragment part, and is composed of three lines. It is concise and devoid of any personal feelings, that is the experts say ‘show it, don’t say it’. One dimension of this poem is that it juxtaposes two things that are seemingly unrelated to make a powerful statement. Again, it shouldn’t be more than 17 syllables; however, some have argued that in English it should be about 12 or 13 syllables. This small introduction shows you that Haiku, being the smallest of all poetry forms, has the largest number of rules. And it is the ability to write in this form that brings fulfillment to one’s life especially if it is accepted by the masters. It also brings order to one’s life. The following piece of mine was published in The Mainichi Daily News of Japan on March 7, 2009:
a beggar's breath
disperses the crowd
5. It's been a year since we last heard from you. What has happened in your writing life in that time? [Editor's Note: This interview is from 2010]
I have not been prolific over the past year, though I have presented my poems to an audience more. It was last year that I started reading my works to an audience. It is uplifting to when after you have read to an audience someone would approach you and tell you how wonderful that piece was, and say this genuinely. I have also worked on my manuscript and have submitted my works to other publishers and journals such as the Ghana Poetry Project, Mensa Press and many others.