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Five Questions with William:
1. The title of this poem is a reference to Ayi Kwei Armah's novel, "The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born". How does this poem connect, for you, with the subject matter and theme's of Armah's book?
The title of this poem is a deliberate echo of the book you mention. This poem shares the disillusionment with contemporary Ghanaian society expressed in Ayi Kwei Armah's novel.
2. The title and opening lines of the poem suggest that the "lucky ones" will be born one day. When do you think that day will come, and what will the world look like at that time?
I have no answer to that. The poem suggests the "lucky ones" are being held back by God, but it doesn't look to answer when they will come, or what the world should be like then. It is a question the reader's instincts can best answer. What's interesting is God's reply "That is hell,..." and his closing statements in the last stanza suggest that the "lucky ones" may never come.
3. You are an active critic of Ghanaian writing - you mentioned in our last interview with you that you wanted to shape "Ghana's "poetic thought" by not only writing poetry, but by writing about poetry." What is your current opinion of the state of Ghanaian poetry? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
Ghanaian poetry today is a patchwork of different voices coexisting in an oddly interesting flux. I've experienced vastly different forms and one thing has struck me, Ghanaian poetry doesn't seem to have grown up. Yet. But that's just a factor of time. It will become better one hopes.
Poetry is functioning as it should, as a reflection of society's spirit. Ghana's poetry reflects the cosmopolitan world view of those who practice it, and that's a good thing. However, I wish more people understood how serious poetry is. Too many poets see the art as a means to an end, and that's disappointing.
4. Continuing off that last question, where do you see Ghanaian poetry going in the next 10 or 20 years? Are you optimistic that a poetic world more suitable for the "lucky ones" will be made, or are you pessimistic?
The only thing certain is poets will become better, and as their readers become more sophisticated, poems will be more refined. That pleases me. I have no idea which direction poetry will take. If things continue as they are right now, poetry might end up resembling today's music industry - or any other popular art form. That, to me, will be tragic.
5. Do you have a favourite Ghanaian poet right now, someone who you think deserves more attention? Or perhaps a non-Ghanaian who young Ghanaian poets could turn to for inspiration?
Singling out one person will be unfair to others whose work has pleased me. I'll mention a number of poets who I pay attention to, whose poetry I feel deserves more recognition. They are, in no order of preference, Efo Dela, Kwabena Agyare, Daniel Kojo Appiah and Amma Konadu Anarfi. I've made a deliberate effort to discover more Ghanaian poets (who actually write their poems) and I've yet to meet others who're more deserving.
As most of the non-Ghanaian poets I read are dead, I doubt many young poets here will find inspiration in them. Still, I must mention WH Auden as my greatest inspiration for the past year.
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