After a lot of reading, and a lot of considering, here is the long list! Thank you all for entering the inaugural Harmattan Poetry Contest, we’ll have the top five by the end of January, just as soon as the season’s dust that’s hanging over Accra starts to settle.
The list, alphabetically by author:
Agbozo, Edzordzi: Clan-root’s Demise
Agbozo, Selorm M.: Another Sunset Aryeetey, Andy: When the War Came to Ghana Botchway, J.N.A.: Oh Africa! Kpeglah, Emmanuel: A Song to Rawlings Kumankoma, Sarpong: And Age Wrote…. Muhammeed, Lambon Salifu: Africa, They Mock You! Nartey, Jonathan: Swindled Country Nelson, Aisha: Stag-Nation Nunekpeku, Frederick E.: My Love Saint George, William: Our Brother Fell Back Home This Morning
I’ve never been one for resolutions. I’ve always thought if you want to make a change, it doesn’t need to be a new year to make it happen. But January does bring some renewed energy and if you’re thinking about how to amp up your writing this year, here are some thoughts:
Start from scratch If you’re like me, you have a file in a virtual or real-life drawer of projects that, at one time, compelled you. They could be hasty first drafts, semi-polished third or fourth takes or just a nugget of an idea that occurred to you while sweeping the floor one day or plugging away at work. Your fresh eyes on the piece now might just be what it needs to make it sing.
Try something new If you have a primary genre you write in, make 2015 the year of branching out. If you’re a poet, try a short story or a piece of travel writing. If you love stage plays, write a personal essay. Give yourself permission to dabble and even be a tad bit awful as you’re trying something new.
Find, or build, a community Writing is a lonely pursuit. And it can feel impossible when pressure from family and friends makes you feel insecure about your writing ambitions. A community of writers is invaluable, whether it’s a close buddy to discuss plot problems with or a writers’ group where pieces are actively workshopped. It makes you accountable and keeps you inspired. Use social media, attend readings, ask your friends if they know any writers. Your community is out there, and with some effort you’ll find it.
Keep a journal I love giving (and receiving) journals as gifts, and if I was a maker of resolutions, keep a journal would be high on my list. Not only does it help establish a regular habit of writing, it’s a repository for ideas, fears, hopes and dreams. It’s a way to sort through a lot of the junk that we bring to our work and clear it out before we sit down to write creatively.
Read something new I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction in recent years. Long-form journalism, which is my original non-fiction crush, and many memoirs as I work on my own. Since joining my local library (which makes me feel blessed), I’ve been more impressed with the fiction selection than non-fiction so I’ve migrated toward those stacks. I wander through and pick up titles that are on my life-long reading wish list. In 2015, I plan to add screenplays and short fiction to my pile. If you don’t have access to a library, try swapping with friends. And check out the scores of amazing literary magazines that are online.
Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. I’m delighted with the submissions from the debut of the Harmattan Poetry contest. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the shortlist and announcement of a winner in early 2015.
It was a perfect morning until breakfast on the precipice of hope, I danced for a little while with thoughts that dipped and soared like a flock of happiness; black as beetles and stark against the melancholic grey of a late August morning.
The air wrapped its fingers round me like fabric, cold and icy that long iron fingers touched my soul and made me shudder, words and laughter whipped up like some mad malevolent storm, and in the clouds towered silence pregnant with despair, about to break and fall as rain, a behemoth shrouded in his despicable glory dragged himself towards the cliff’s razor edge on which I stood, and did not know which way I was to fly: not today, I told the voice that rippled through frigid air, not today, and watched him slouch and never move a limb.
Jesse Johnson writes poetry and fiction under the pen name William Saint George. He loves to read poetry from various schools and pursues several interests ranging from world history to fine art, photography and amateur music composition. Jesse’s poetry is characterized by a more than casual adherence to traditional Western form and the lyrical treatment of raw, intimate subjects. He works as a software developer and product designer in East Legon, Accra Ghana. Find him online at his website, on Medium and SoundCloud