by Abeiku Arhin Tsiwah
Ghanaian Poetry is not Poetry any more. It is Spoken Word. It is a river of intangible pollutants. A stream of bowling uncharacteristic souls seeking for attention without scores. A screaming position pointers flirtingly asking for portraits of their performances for their posts. Ghanaian Poetry is a classroom of screaming over pampered children who cry wolf over peanut investments and expect full pocket returns.
Arching towards apparent reality, I’ve doubted modern-day Ghanaian Poets rising to merit the impeccable standards set by their counterparts in Nigeria, SA, Kenya, Sudan et al. Over the years, I’ve become an intoxicated ‘self-acclaimed poet’ who religiously worships many Nigerian young Poets for their resilience and redefinition of their artistic inputs, and how consistently they make it through every inch of the Global Poetry Cult (GPC).
It is of much interest when one navigates through the ‘GPC’ of the present literature dispensation and come into terms with the obviousness of how evergreen the universe of this space has become and constantly realizing some of the major unconventional changes in the Poetry circlet , especially, in the narrative of the African Poetics.
A handful of Ghanaian Poets, mostly male dominated, genuinely follow the cult system about the unique and unquestionable changes happening in the Poetry sphere. Such Poets are rare and hardly do one come into contact with their works, and if one does, it is mind boggling how creative and innovative such bodies convey their messages using elastic imagery, pure metaphors and surged aesthetics. When you are opportune to come across such Ghanaian Poets, it almost seem miraculous. They are punctuated just dot-after-dot on the average.
A host of Ghanaian Poets making claims and parading their businesses all over on our newly constituted world, social media, aren’t Poet in actuality, to a far greater extent. Majority of them are a bunch of disgruntled everyday writers who make juggernaut apologies to the shield of the supposed Poetry badge they often do not truly recognize. It is such a disturbing phenomenon to watch many water boats offscreen themselves in pieces of writing which barely can make it through an editorial handshake.
The average screaming Ghanaian Poet doesn’t know where to submit their works to be scored by the brutal teeth of editors. I’ve witnessed for myself how sadly it’s for many of these Ghanaian counterparts vis-a-vis Nigerian Poets to make known posts for themselves which journal or poetry outlet made their works see the light of their audience or better for narrative epilogue use, which journal or e-zine rejected their works. It’s almost look like a decline with clutches.
We’re Ghanaians and come from a background of less spirited achievers in many fields. — Of supposed poets who enjoy being hailed for doing nothing with poetry. — Of writers who can’t have records of the number of times their works have bridged the gap between the very fictitious world they live in and the real happenings in the actual world that any GPS annotation can locate. Even if we are not gifted or talented (and when we do), we do not learn through toils to make it to the top. We do not pursue the very things we want to be tagged along with the zest it requires. All we want to do is just splash in some ink and get a few throwbacks on it and we shout, ‘yeah, we’re good’. Such an unfortunate situation.
I’ve seen a great deal of young Nigerian Poets who had to deactivate their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts or at best remain mute on such spaces for months, sometimes, extending into a year and beyond to unlearn, to read and to reorient themselves with works of Poets making bigger wins on the Global Poetry Space. Stories of this magnitude aren’t simple observations made over whiskey and brandy toasts. The amazing results of such investments; dedication atop zeal have yielded tangible testaments dotted all over the internet and in concretized journals, and in the archives of highly prized international poetry awards. The likes of Romeo Oriogun, Aremu Adams Adebisi, Micheal Ace, Ayoola Goodness Olanrewaju, Logan February, Saddiq M Dzukogi, Tukur Loba Ridwan, Adelaja Ridwan Olayiwola, Nome Patrick Emeka, Akor Emmanuel Oche, Tolulope Oke, Tee Bliss, etcetera typifies the change explosively marking this wilderness.
Take all the top spots in African Poetry at the bigger stages in the world today and you would realize how unfortunate we are as Ghanaians claiming to be Poets. We’re no where near the chamber filter shoots. We’re like walking feet that can’t etch indelible footprints for others to follow in tracing which destination we’ve headed to.
We’re interested in intoxicating our minds with obsession and nothingness emptied in clichés. Making obsessed blanket remarks have become our ideals. Page story associations. And those God forsaken statements — we’re making headways, have punctuated the Ghanaian poet’s courtyard.
Our approach as supposedly self-claiming Ghanaian Poets is too conventional and oath-ladden. The odds do not measure to our gains. We’re embedded in pitching one piece and trying them to be measurable to standards and when we sadly fail in that department, we quickly switch the head game and gulp down the throat of spoken word. Every one is now a spoken word artist and too clumsily, we don’t want to be tagged along that light too. Our conscription to this syndrome is flawed. Our poetry has no magic.
Specific Ghanaian Poetry award schemes in this league have decline in popularity contest over the years. There is nothing so fascinating about them. They lack direction and even if they’re rounded in merit, clumsy criteria do pass on the baton. The Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) Awards organized under the auspices of the Ghana Association of Writers, Ghana’s foremost parent writers association has become handicapped. Its flame with the poet’s court is decrying to describe. It has hardly any practical stroke to think of in terms of realism. It is only a paltry size projection with numbers and quite frankly, the few privileged who hear of its request for submissions leaves one into thinking if it is country-wide in its appeal.
At a point when hopes were risen and engines of star war machines polished by the offshoot of the privately birthed Ghana Writers Awards, little did I realize that the award itself was a bullet traveling through an already made hole in the wall. Poets and writers make submissions, they wait upon days and weeks with the last alphabets in their prayers; the awards ceremony greets them, but not the works that made the cut for the shortlists? For the two years of the scheme’s running, the Ghana Writers Awards has lost value with those who genuinely rooted for it survival. It’s an excellent space that could amount to goodness provided it is well managed and streamlined— to unearthing the finest bards within the nooks and crannies of our country. However, if Poets/Writers would painstakingly submit their sweat for a competition that won’t put up the Shortlisted works to the public space for perusal, then to what justification can the organizers call for subsequent submissions?
Poetry goes hand-in-hand with crucial investment. It’s pivotal. Consistent revolution is important to reviving loosened ends of Poetry. Improvising is essential. Reworking on the poet’s craft is laudable. But reinventing the wheels (the poet) when the need arises is paramount to the survival of the poet in this competitive space that is always undergoing critical amelioration.
I don’t know how the parameters worked to her favour, but, the works of Jo Nketiah over the last few months have appealed to my senses strongly. Whenever I read her works, I see a fluid Laden Osman. I visualize the flawless imagery of a certain Theresa Lola. I realize that spaces have been bridged and the new Jo Nketiah has risen from the ashes of Rupi Kaur on this divide. She’s tracing her own path out of resurrection and her fresh voice is cutting through metallic hearts and ore souls.
Subtle developments have been resurfacing on this islet. I’m mesmerized by the works of new Ghanaian voices like those of Henneh Kyereh Kwaku, Oppong Clifford Benjamin , Kodwo Hybrid, Joseph Yaw Frimpong and a few more others. But genuinely, these bards make their works find you holy grounds to get multiple orgasms. The likes of Adjei Agyei-Baah, Kwaku Feni Adow, Celestine Nudanu et al have cemented their names as a handful of our finest breeds from the Haiku fraternity who are working so hard to make Ghanaian Haiku Poetry or more properly in context ‘Afriku’ proud of its offerings.
Honestly, if Ghanaian Poetry can rise to merit the fronting pallet of the progress resounding in today’s Poetry world, then our works seriously need fine-tuning. It needs balance. It needs striking elements. It needs re-shaping. It deserves unparalleled voices. It deserves some magic. It merits a lot more miracle. Our works need aesthetical surgery. It deserves prolific imagery. Breathtaking metaphors. Our works need total overhaul: Beauty. Fire. Pain. Taste. Suitability. Spark. Sensation. Garnishing. But most importantly, our works need to bring forth its — TRUTH — :to shoot while it have pellets, to punch while it have fists, to influence while it have the charm /& to indoctrinate while it have the sanity of expression. Ghanaian Poetry must have the energy to heal.
In the coming years, I want to see more Ghanaian Poets rob shoulders with their compatriots across the Global Poetry space. Making more submissions to the innumerable creative journals/portals/magazines being established daily. Efforts must be directed to winning pivotal laurels. Poets must make audacious statements to the world literature faculty that Ghanaian Poetry isn’t a failure //or hasn’t been left to the shambles as it has been made to look after the baton was handed over to the new generation by the likes of Kofi Awonoor, Atukwei Okai, Kwesi Brew et al.
Abeiku Arhin Tsiwah is a Ghanaian Smartphone Enthusiast //& Content Critic. He’s the Poetry Editor at Lunaris Review (a Journal of Arts & the Literary, Nigeria) & the Creative Director at The Village Thinkers (a Creative Writing & Arts Society, Ghana). The 2018 Shortlisted Poet for both African Writers Awards /&/ West Africa Citizens Awards has had his works published in Afridiaspora, Peeking Cat Poetry, EXPOUND, Whispers, Novel Masters, African Writer, Agbówó, Tuck Magazine, Africa Redemption Magazine, The Liberian Literary Magazine /&/ elsewhere. Contact via: firstname.lastname@example.org