Kwame Aidoo (Kwame Write) shares opinion on why poets must challenge themselves, asks what is society doing for the current crop of poets and why he wants Prez. Mahama kicked out of office.
2014 was a busy year for you. 2015 has started well. What drives you?
Passion first, do more than talk! I’m thankful for the support across board. In 2014, I was long listed for the 2014 Golden Baobab Awards for Children’s Literature. I guest lectured on Storytelling and the Digital Market at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology. Inkfluent; the poetry record label and event company I founded in 2011 dropped Vocal Portraits 2(Kente Locutions) extending the reach and featuring poets from SA, UK and US though the content still stayed mostly GH.
Similar to 2013’s Vocal Portraits 1, it was received well and got radio play from Australia to the UK. Vocal Portraits 3 will be released in July/August this year. Inkfluent also partnered with Ehalakasa to organize slams and workshops for senior high school students from rural areas, open mics, flash mobs, etc. Also, with support from Accra [dot] Alt, Inkfluent put together a successful workshop at the last Chale Wote Festival featuring renowned writers Nii Ayikwei Parkes and Mariska Darko and ending in a procession performance through the streets of Jamestown. I can’t forget the Adinkra-inspired mural as directed by Inkfluent’s visual artist Ccil. 2014 was great!
Powered by Alliance Francaise d’Accra, we started 2015 with ‘The Write Experience’ featuring poets and graffiti artists from Ghana and Togo with collaborative performances backed by jazz band Blood Drum Spirit Ensemble from the US on the theme environmentalism. More to come!
You can be described as a veteran poet. What is it about the poetry scene that makes you cringe?
Generally, I believe we have such a creative industry propelled by young passionate artists. Though, I think we can do more with better professionalism, like attending rehearsals and sound checks prior to events and keeping to the time allotted to us on stage. Poetic license is assured but literary devices empower the diction. Not every poem has to be funny or of sexual content. We need to read wide, because there is a baggage of history, relevant ideologies and politics of livelihoods which can inform our writings.
We need to travel across the regions and interact more, there’s a lot of heavy culture and present day nuances to document. We need to close the gap with artists of other genres by producing high quality videos, more audio albums, TV and more radio slots. We need our own awards show! Some poets claim they only write ‘Christian poems’ or ‘Islamic poems’ or ‘Love poems’. I think if we venture outside the box and touch on what’s on the ground, we’ll go further with our art.
Walk me through ‘A day in the life of Kwame Write’?
Fufu is usually a part of the day. Ha! The regular- I read books and blogs, prioritize tasks allocated for the day, check E-mails and social media, connect with family and friends, make meetings happen, do some creating/writing(especially blog about art, music and social spaces); something I actively commenced in 2015. I teach slam poetry to about 100 high school students so I spend time with the teens. I’m working on my debut EP I call Public Verses Announcement, so I find myself in the recording studio sometimes.
How many hours does it take you to memorize and prepare for a performance?
It could take less than an hour or a matter of days to memorize. Memorization used to be the most difficult part but I keep working on ways to make it easy, like recording the piece and playing it several times or writing using run-on lines and internal rhymes so my mind easily connects to the flow. It also depends on the complexity or length of the piece. I started employing rap choruses in between verses of my poems because I needed to recollect everything and guess what? It became a style! I call it Spoken Raps! Sometimes I just experiment with improvisation and the audience can’t tell the difference.
Is the current crop of poets playing the role of ‘society’s eye and mouth’ as they should? What can be done to improve it?
Firstly, a large section of the older generation of poets is not really in direct connection with the new breed of word artists. There should be more workshops to pass down the knowledge and interact productively. There’s the lack of enough convenient ‘Ghanaian’ social spaces for shows and government support too. What is the current crop of poets doing for their society? What is society doing for the current crop of poets?
A part of a writer is evident in his/her works. How much of ‘you’ can be found in your poems?
This question could be best answered by enthusiasts of my work. The genuine thing is, I try to tell my stories or the Ghanaian experience through my writings, though people from other parts of the world may absorb and interpret it in connection with the perspicacity of their realities. I can relate to Chimamanda Adichie’s view that our lives and our cultures are composed of many overlapping stories.
What are you passionate about?
My dreams, my family, health and mental wealth
Africa; its people, culture, places and what’s left of it
I am passionate about music, art and creative entrepreneurship
Tell me 3 secrets about yourself
I still write using Bic pen and a sheet of paper
I’m a vulnerable vegetarian
I like checking out old movies and new cuisines
If you’re to play God for a day what 5 things will you do?
- Take out Mahama and all the other puppet governments killing Africa
- Stop all the expats stealing lands and opportunities by claiming they’re running NGOs. I’m talking expats whose actions contribute to making the continent impoverished.
3. Tell Christians, Muslims and other religious people that the fashioned out concept of identifying with the ‘image of God’, preachers and stories from religious books should not dissuade them from being human or believing in themselves.
4. I’d know exactly if KKD had raped the girl and incarcerate him therefore as well as make Woyome walk the length and breadth of Ghana and give back every tax payer’s share of the stolen monies.
5. Make currency extinct. People would buy food with a smile and there will be equal opportunities/service everywhere.
What do you look out for in a potential lover?
Enormous attachments of wigs and continuous bleaching of the skin are turn-offs. But chale, I believe no one is perfect so it’s a matter of ‘working’ things out.
Listen to the latest Spoken Rap from Kwame featuring Wanlov – Wana Mama
Kwame Write (Kwame Aidoo) is a Biochemist, a performance poet (spoken word) a blogger, a writer and an arts curator. His poetry can be read at kwamewrite.blogspot.com. He lives in Tema and his latest album, Vocal Portraits 2 and some of his works is available on soundcloud.com/kwamewrite. Visit kwamewrite.wordpress.com for a his art work