In September 2002 he travelled to the United Kingdom. During his stay in England, he was occupied by a string of odd jobs, including the position of a factory labourer, fabric launderer and newspaper columnist.
Antwi is currently the proprietor of Seaweed Books, publishers of Phillis Wheately Chapter and organizers of both the Ahenkro Book Fair and the Miss Akoto Book Club.
Five Questions with Darko Antwi:
1. What inspired you to write this poem?
I have never witnessed someone's dying moments. But I have always been fascinated by the hearsay of final words. Based on a younger relative's drinking habit, I imagined how his mother's last words to him would be. From that imagination, I went on and on to lay bare some of the attitudes that die with us: our fears, our hope, our mercies, our wryness, our prejudices, our bitterness etc. I have used a real name: 'Aunt Araba' in memory of a Fante woman who was married to my grand uncle. I loved her, and she loved me when I was growing up in the early 80's. She was a baker with a big brick oven at the centre of Ashanti New Town. She often gave me free fresh bread for breakfast. She said I was her 'husband'. Whenever she came home to pamper me, my head swelled. She died eight years ago. So, I wrote the poem with her in mind - though the drama is not necessarily true to her character.
2. How did this lines of the poem start for you? Did one particular stanza come first, and then the poem grew from there, or?
Since it was the foremost idea to drop into my mind, the first stanza was certainly first on the draft. And I thought it worthwhile to maintain its position. The only stanzas I kept shifting places are the 6th, 7th and 8th, as the script progressed.
3. The end of this poem relies on sounds (it reminds me of Mariska Taylor-Darko's "Harmattan don come again ooooooh"). Do you ever worry, in leaning on the use of such sounds, that they might be misinterpreted (especially, I think here, by an international audience not familiar with the Ghanaian verbal soundscape of "oh"s, "ah"s, etc.)? Or is it ok with you however that last line is interpreted?
I wish I knew Aunt Araba's mind / feelings myself. But I do not, unfortunately. I can only guess based on common usage of the sounds in real experiences [in the Ghanaian cultural setting]. Same may apply to the international audience. As if I knew how crucial it would be for interpretation. I thought of it myself. Hence I do not intend to subject it to misinterpretation. Those cultural-diverse sounds should therefore be studied to be understood in the Ghanaian context, for the benefit of effective psycho-analysis of the main character in the poem.
4. You used to live in London. Do you ever think of the state the city must be in as it gears up to host the Olympics? Have you been following some of the poetry events that surround the games, such as the Poetry Parnassus, in which Ghana will be represented by Nii Ayikwei Parkes?
I can only imagine the euphoria in the city. Nii Ayikwei Parkes representing Ghana at the Poetry Parnassus is an honour we can be proud of. May I, on behalf of the Ghanaian poetry community, use this media to wish him the best of performance.
5. It's been half a year since we last heard from you. How has 2012 been treating you? Have you been writing more or less than in 2011?
2012 has been so kind a year. I wrote much in 2011. So much, so that six months into this year, I am still wrapping up the volume I collected in the previous year for publication. It is not solely poetry. I am talking about four picture books and a reference document, inclusive.