Five Questions with Martin Egblewogbe:
Writers Project of Ghana. He is the current host of the weekly radio show, "Writers Project on Citi", which airs Sunday evenings at 8.30 PM GMT on Citi FM. Martin Egblewogbe is the author of the short story collection Mr Happy and the Hammer of God and Other Stories (Ayebia, 2012) and he also co-edited the anthology Look Where You Have Gone To Sit (Woeli, 2010). Many of his works have appeared online and in print.
Martin mainly writes short stories and poetry. His hobbies include still photography and astronomy.
He lives in Accra with his wife and two children.
Five Questions with Martin Egblewogbe:
1. The opening words of this poem, "a story", are interesting, considering the recent republication of your book of short stories Mr. Happy and The Hammer of God & Other Stories by Ayebia Clarke Publishing. Why do some of your stories find there way into poems, and others into stories? Are you trying to do something different with short stories than you are with poems?
Well Rob, I think that mostly all my stories find their way into stories, and my poems into poems; but some poems do find their way into stories, and so does the larger swallow the smaller.
I see my poems and stories as very different in what they are trying to say, or are indeed capable of saying. So yes: from the onset, an idea presents itself as a story, or as a poem.
2. This poem obviously leans on repetition. Many of your short stories do so, as well, with characters repeating thoughts, actions, etc. (the repetitive, monotonous days of "Jjork" or "Spiral", for instance). Why do you think you're drawn to repetition in your writing?
In this poem, the repetitiveness emphasizes the nature of the 'grand cycles' spoken of in the poem: cycles of life, evolution, civilization: hence, the ultimate futility of a man's effort in view of the larger, perhaps cosmic, scheme of things.
In "Spiral", the terror of an unending, meaningless routine is seen in the yearning for a "happening" that not only breaks the routine, but explains "it all". In "Jjork", such escape from the tyranny of chance events that nevertheless lead to highly predictable outcomes occurs, opening up a new realm of understanding for Jjork.
So mainly, the repetition is for emphasis of what is being said, and also as a reflection of the nature of the subject.
3. You originally self-published Mr. Happy in 2008. How did it comes to be republished by Ayebia last year?
Book blogger Kinna Likimani and author Ama Ata Aidoo recommended the collection to Ayebia editor Nana Ayebia, and she was interested in re-issuing it. The book was re-designed: i.e., typeset again and a new cover created; also a few changes were made to the text. The collection is now marketed worldwide, I believe.
4. Ayebia seems to be a real rising force in Ghanaian literature. How did you find working with them? What recommendations do you have for people who may be interested in publishing with Ayebia in the future?
Yes, Ayebia books are very visible in Ghanaian bookshops, and they have published a good number of Ghanaian writers. My experience with Ayebia has been good. For prospective authors, there is information on submissions on the Ayebia website.
5. It's been two and half years since we last profiled you here at OGOV. My understanding is that during that time you moved to the United States and then returned to Ghana, correct? Other than the republication of Mr. Happy, what else have you been up to?
Well, I've since completed my PhD and I am back as lecturer at the University of Ghana. Apart from work and research, I am also now dedicating more time to the Writers Project of Ghana, writing, and of course, my family.
The Writers Project of Ghana has a number of projects held over from the previous years that we are working at completing. Also, we are maintaining our previous programmes (book readings at the Goethe Institute in Accra, weekly radio show on Citi FM in Accra, fortnightly "reading picnic" for children) and we have added a vibrant book club. I use this opportunity to invite readers to follow us on twitter @writersPG for regular updates on our activities.