The Q&A series features poet Edzordzi Agbozo. Akwantuo is looking for writers to profile, please get in touch at akwantuo (at) gmail.com, on Facebook or Twitter
Q: Writing can be a lonely business. What do you get from being part of a creative community?
A: Writing indeed is a lonely work. The satisfaction I get from people’s appreciation of my work is what keeps me moving. It is delightful that someone has got something to say, no matter how little, about your work. Writing itself is sometimes a therapy. It relieves one off the psycho-social (and maybe spiritual) burdens of everyday life.
Q: How do people react when you tell them you write?
A: The reactions vary. Fellow writers are happy and become curious about what I write. They ask many questions, share their experiences (usually starting with the sad ones) and want to read for you. Non-writers become too careful around me (as if they are scared). Some make comments like “apart from all the interesting things in life, why writing? Do you want to be a sad person and eventually go mad?” Many see writers as wierd human beings. The case is worse if they know I love to write poetry. Some people see poets as deeply melancholic, eternally unhappy and they are perpetually thinking about the things around them. They are, however, appreciative of my efforts if they get to read my works.
Q: Are there challenges unique to Ghanaian writers that others may not face?
A: The fundamental challenge Ghanaian writers face is publishing. Most publishers go for manuscripts people would quickly buy when published. Textbooks always are preferred to creative works. Novels get some level of attention but drama and poetry are always at the bottom of the preferential ladder. Many poetry books are self-published. Also, Ghanaians do not read from their writers. The young people, especially, would choose American ‘bestsellers’ (which almost every American writing is, these days) over indigenous works. I do not know much about other countries but the situation is not the same in Norway (a great and beautiful nation of good people) where there is a high level of nationalism attached to Norwegian literature and language. They, therefore, would choose a Norwegian writer over others. Nigeria, because of its large population, is also doing well (at least from the conversations I had with some young writers and readers from that wonderful country.)
Q: What draws you to the writing page? Why do you write?
A: My writing art is a result of; first, madness at a system, institution, action, history and the future. Secondly, the urge to change thoughts and shape dreams and thirdly, the love for writing as an art, motivate me to write.
Edzordzi Agbozo’s works appeared in the Intercontinental Anthology of Poetry on Universal Peace (2014), Prairie Schooner (2014), Glass Warriors, (2012), among others. He also performed poetry at the state funeral of the late President J. E. Atta Mills of Ghana (2012). Find him on Twitter.