Author Profile - Kyilleh Dominic Arituo


Kyilleh Dominic Arituo was born in Fielmua, Sissala West District in the Upper West Region. After his Senior Secondary education at Lawra, he was employed by the Kwahu North District Assembly as the Steward of the Presidential Lodge. By the close of 2008, he began publishing poems in the Writers Page Gh/Daily Graphic, The Mirror and other online magazines. He is currently enrolled in B.A. Studies at Valley View University.

Five Questions with Kyilleh Dominic Arituo:

1. Usually I will ask a poet what inspired their given poem, but here it is clearly Darko Antwi's "Scarecrow", which we published last month on this site. What was it about that poem that triggered you to respond to it in this way?

The title and the simplicity of the poem in style and diction. This is the type of poem I want to write, simple and attractive. We live in a text message era where the majority of people spend their leisure time "Facebooking" or blogging rather than reading novels or poems like "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" for pleasure. The simpler and more concise a writer becomes the more attractive their works to their fans.

The title of Darko's poem, “Scarecrow”, reminded me of my childhood experience with birds and the making of scarecrows during sowing seasons and harvest seasons at the farm in the Upper West region. The birds would eat the greater amount of the seeds despite the scarecrows. Devastating!

I didn’t find my scarecrow in Darko’s poem, I felt left out in his experience. To show my respect and appreciation to him, I stood in his footprint and painted my crow and scarecrow as a way of contextualizing the experience for my people (peasant farmers in Northern Ghana).

2. In my reading, the two poems (yours and Darko's) have quite different tones, chiefly around the idea of fear. Fear's having left is a relief in Darko's poem, and a curse (for the farmer, at least) in yours. Do you read the poems as being opposite, tonally? Do they have places of overlap?

The poems are opposite, tonally. In Darko’s poem, the personas are the ones being scared by an imaginary scarecrow. The personas on discovering that it was an imaginary scarecrow, overcome the fear. In my poem, on the other hand, the farmer intentionally set up a scarecrow to put fear in the birds but unfortunately for him, the birds on closer examination found out that what seemed to be a human being was “Only dry sticks / Wearing a white jellaba.” The birds overcame their fear and went into the farm to eat the seeds. This is a curse to the farmer.

3. The "take away" image I have in your poem is that of the boy on the swing, coming and going, casually and playfully, and yet (as a parallel to the crows' visits) devastatingly for the farmer. It's a nice image that is made menacing by the context. How did you come upon that line? Did it come in your first writing, or in later edits?

As you rightly said, the image is “made menacing by the context”. The persona is angrily mimicking the birds’ mockery of the farmer who sets up the scarecrow to scare them away.

Initially, I wrote the first thirteen lines to comment on Darko’s poem but when my attempt to publish it failed; I added the last seven lines. This was all done at a sitting.

4. Some might say a poem like this copies too heavily from its "source" poem, and therefore verges on plagiarism. What would you say to them?

I don’t think this is the case. Inspiration based on experience has no respect for plagiarism. It is true that I stood in Darko’s footprint and did the painting, but the pictures painted are not the same. Every good artist would testify to this fact as you have already attested that the poems have different tones. There are many examples of poems in this nature, for example “The Tyger” by William Blake and “The Pauper” by Richard Ntiru.

5. If you could have one of your poems "remixed" by another poet, living or dead, who would it be, and why?

If I am to choose from abroad it would be Warsan Shire, a British-Somali poet. Here at home, I would choose Darko Antwi for reasons of simplicity of diction and quality of poetry.

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