An Interview with Golden Baobab Prize Longlist Author Portia Dery

Hello Everyone. As you may be aware, we are publishing a five-question interview with Ghanaians on the longlist of the Golden Baobab Prize. Today, we feature Portia Dery. Portia is a social entrepreneur and blogs at portiadery.wordpress.com
Her works have been published by the UK poetry library, Artsbeat Afrika’s first anthology, Ayiba magazine; and the Young Journalists and Writers(YJAW) platform. Portia is also the founder of the African Youth Writers Organization (AYWO), which seeks to lure children to read and write by grooming them in an incubator programme for a specific period of time.

We asked her the usual dosage of 5 questions on makkng it on to the longlist!

CWG: How did you hear about the Prize and why did you decide to enter this particular category?

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PD: I heard of the golden baobab prize via face book. In fact to be honest I have been following the activities of golden baobab and eventually fell in love with its whole idea of stimulating the imagination of children through beautiful African stories. Why I decided to write for the picture category was because I love kids but I adore them most when they are nine and below! So I thought the better way to show them love was to write for them.

CWG: How did you receive the news about the longlist, where were you and how did you feel?

PD: Wow good question! It was almost 10pm (in Gushegu, a district in Tamale where I work) and I was yet to check my email for the day. As soon as I saw congratulations Portia, I froze on my bed and then I took a deep breathe, eventually I went back to the mail, and then it dawn on me that I had been longlisted. Since I was alone in my room, I only had my walls to share the good news and so I shouted THANK YOU JESUS!

CWG: Is this your first time making a Longlist? What are writing at the moment?

PD: Indeed it is! I am currently working on some short stories, rewriting and editing a collection of poems.

CWG: In the past prizes, very few Ghanaians have made the Longlist. Are you confident you’ll make the shortlist?

PD: Nothing is impossible! In any case I have nothing to lose by hoping. Indeed with my faith in God , I know something great is on the way. By the way congratulations to the other longlisted writers, especially the Ghanaians!

CWG: Thank you for making the Writing community in Ghana proud. Any final words?

PD: Yes. I would like to tell young writers out there…especially you who have worked so hard that they should write and write because someday, somehow everything would fall in place. I thank Deborah for her golden baobab. She has indeed dared to put her passion in action. I encourage all writers/readers/literary platforms to partner with each other, for it is only when we join forces that African literature can grow. I am also looking forward to partner my project called the African youth writers organization-AYWO with other literary platforms to lure children to read and write. And thank you so much creative writing Ghana for promoting African literature!

Interview with Golden Baobab Prize Longlist Author Kwame Aidoo

This is second in our series of interviews with some Ghanaians on the longlist of the Golden Baobab Prize announced recently. Kwame Aidoo (KA), popularly known as Kwame Write, is famous for his poetry and street name within the spoken word community in Ghana. This time, he has broken the stereotype by making the list.

CWG: How did you hear about the Prize and why did you decide to enter this particular category?
Kwame Write and Deborah Ahenkorah on Writers Project on Citi fm

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KA: I remember hearing Deborah Ahenkorah, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Golden Baobab talk about the prizes on Citi FM’s Writers Project Ghana radio show, and also on social media, especially twitter. I followed on to the website where I read more about how it functions. I actually wrote for all the categories and even entered the Illustrations category, except Rising Writers category, of course.

CWG: How did you receive the news about the longlist, where were you and how did you feel?

KA: Truth is, the Golden Baobab team sent me an e-mail about it and I was really excited. I was working from home, and I was actually shocked because I didn’t think I would make the longlist. I put in as much time as I do with some of my poems. I only attempted entering when the deadline was almost up, typed it out quickly in about an hour or two when the creative juice flowed, edited briskly and hit send. The media buzz about it; radio, Internet, newspaper and having friends and admirers call from all over adds to the honour and I must say I am very humbled.

CWG: Is this your first time making a Longlist? What are you writing at the moment?

KA: For children’s literature, this is the first time I’m making a longlist. I usually don’t work on just one item in a day. I attend to one writing at a time and give it as much focus and move to another, usually of a different genre depending on priority, deadline, drive or creative buzz. At the moment, of course I am working on more children’s literature and some may evolve into animations in the near future. I am, as well, putting together some works for a personal audio recording project under the auspices of Inkfluent (producers of Vocal Portraits spoken word series in conjunction with Akwaaba Music). Also, I am doing some music journalism for the Music in Africa project for Goethe South Africa. My debut anthology and a mini ‘zine’ that projects the Ghanaian street art and music trend as well as lifestyle of the popular not forgetting the underlying grapevine groove are also in the works.

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CWG: In the past prizes, very few Ghanaians have made the Longlist. Are you confident you’ll make the shortlist?

KA: Yes, I am confident, because my work “The Tale of the Busy Body Bee” has the African folklore/storytelling touch and is carved out for the target age group.

 

CWG: Thank you for making the Writing community in Ghana proud. Any final words?

KA: I’m excited to be part of the writers making the longlist. Golden Baobab in its 6th year is ever passionate about putting blue-ribbons in the hats of African writers and illustrators of children’s stories. These are seeds being sown for this generation and progeny. I would say, particularly to fellow writers and the youth that we are unrestricted in any way to dream big but realistically; make focused plans, especially with our community in mind, achieve them and repeat the cycle.

 

Ghana Voices Series Presents Benjamin Kwakye as Author

The Writers Project of Ghana presents as author on the Ghana Voices Series for September, Benjamin Kwakye, who will read tonight at the Goethe Institut.

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The Ghana Voices Series is a monthly book reading series organised by the Writers Project of Ghana together with the Goethe Institut, Accra.

The reading tonight, will start at 7PM and end at 8PM. It is a free event. However, books will be made available for purchase.

You can follow the event on Twitter by following @writersPG; and the hashtags #GhanaVoicesSeries, #GVS and #bookreading.

As always, tell us if you liked the programme should you be able to attend.

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Interview with Golden Baobab Prize Longlist Author Ricky Ansong

This week, we will publish short interviews with some of the Ghanaian authors on the Golden Baobab Prize longlist released a few weeks ago. It is our hope that this introduces the authors to you. As this is only the longlist, we are not looking to pose probing questions, but rather intend the questions to be quite cursory in their outlook.

Today, we start with Ricky Ansong, a young Ghanaian writer and author of Koryor and the Sea. We (CWG) started by asking Ricky how he heard about the prize and why he decided to send in his entry.

Ricky Ansong

Ricky Ansong

Ricky Ansong (RA): I heard about the Prize through Twitter. I decided to enter this category because I love writing for children and I wanted validation from Golden Baobab. I wanted to know if what I wrote for children was good enough.

CWG: How did you receive the news about the longlist, where were you and how did you feel?

RA:I received the news about the longlist through an email. I was then at the Vodafone Café at Cantoments. I felt like my heart would explode. I had to take a walk around the compound to calm my racing heart.

CWG: Is this your first time making a Longlist? What are writing at the moment?

RA: Yes, this is my first time making a longlist. I am working on a young adult novel currently.

CWG: In the past prizes, very few Ghanaians have made the Longlist. Are you confident you’ll make the shortlist?

RA:Yes, I’m confident I will make the shorlist.

CWG: Thank you for making the Writing community in Ghana proud. Any final words?

RA:I would like to thank everyone at Golden Baobab for this opportunity. To the other writers in the competition, I say “congratulations”.

GAWBOFEST Returns

The Ghana Association of Writers Book Festival is scheduled for Monday, 22 September, at the National Theatre, Accra.

The GAWBOFEST, as it is popularly nicknamed, brings together writers, publishers, readers and an array of books displayed by bookshops.

The event, which falls on a public holiday that commemorates the birthday of the first president of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, will start at 8 in the morning and close at 5PM.

Last year, the current president of Ghana, John Mahama, read from his then newly published autobiography. We were able to grab a copy of the Caine Prize anthology. Perhaps, you can do same of this year’s version headlined by the Ghanaian story “Gonjon Pin”.

As usual, if you are able to attend, let us know what you think in the comments.

Book for September: Ben Okri’s Incidents At The Shrine

This month, the Writers Project of Ghana’s Book Discussion Club has selected, Incidents at the Shrine, a collection of short stories by the Nigerian Ben Okri for its monthly book discussion.

The club reads books from across the globe and it seems the book selections have landed firmly on the continent, as Ben Okri follows Ayikwei Parkes, whose novel, Tail of the Blue Bird, was the book for August.

Copies of the book are available for purchase at the EPP Bookshop in Accra and at the ultramodern one at Legon, opposite the University of Ghana campus. If you contact the Writers Project of Ghana, they can arrange a copy for you.

We picked up our copy already and it is an amazing read: from expression of the ravages of war told through the eyes of a child to relationships and societal corruption. These are great stories by all standards.

If you are able to grab a copy and read, join the discussion on Twitter with the hashtags #wpghbookclub and #IncidentsAtTheShrine. Follow @writersPG; also let us know in the comments what you think! Happy Reading!

It is the Writer Erections Reloaded!

When the poet Nana Asaase hosted the first Writer Erections about two years ago, many did not assume the current dimensions the programme is exhibiting. On the platform of Asaase Inscriptions, the arm that handles the business side of the poetry, Nana Asaase (formerly Philip Oyinka), is back with Writer Erections Reloaded.

The programme, which is taking place on 22 September 2014, at the College of Surgeons and Physicians (Ridge Roundabout or Liberation Circle), and starting from 5PM will be bigger than its previous shows. The date falls a day after the birthday of Ghana’s first president Dr Kwame Nkrumah. perhaps, that explains the poster going with the event.

Writer Erections itself emerged out of an initiative to encourage other young Ghanaian writers, and artists in general, to sharpen their artform. It was a platform for the expression of art across all barriers: age, gender, religion etc.

Writer Erections Reloaded

Writer Erections Reloaded

Speaking to Nana Asaase earlier in the week, he opined that “this year, we have three generations on a single stage; beneficiaries of Poetry for Development, Asaase Inscriptions’ Rural Literary initiative, as well as a melange of colour, dance, music, and relevance through the arts. Same venue, an upgraded experience.” All that is plenty talk. What it means is that Writer Erections Reloaded will be too much fun!

We asked Nana Asaase about why it was that this year’s event is bringing on board many older generation poets. According to him, “it is on the ends of old ropes that new ones are woven. It might be the essence of unity in three parts.” Indeed, he has spoken like the writer that he is.

Should you make it to Writer Erections Reloaded, expect to see greats such as Atukwei Okai, Esi Sutherland Addy, and Mawuli Adzei.

To reserve your tickets, you can call 026 458 8865. Follow Nana Asaase on Twitter at @Asaase_Nana and the hashtag #writererectionsreloaded