When Vocal Portrait I was released, it was the cover design that appealed to most people before they were able to listen to the multiverse from a plethora of Ghanaian poets, as well us two Europeans and one African American.
Spotting what looked at first like tossed colours from the brush of a painter, the impressive cover credit goes to one Ian Quahchi.
The eclectic collection of poems featured Michael Somuah Jesse, Edith Ndabi, Laud de Poet, Mariska Taylor Darko, Rhymesonny, Jude Edze, Yom_Writer_Poet, Kwaku Rap, Chief Moomen, Shark Mellon; and the guy who put it all together, Kwame Write. The two European poets were Aqua Stuzenaite and Anastasia Karklina; and the African American poet, Tiffany Howard. The collection had 20 poems on it.
The latest collection, titled Vocal Portraits II, continues in the tradition of the first: painting the Ghanaian landscape with the voices of some of its most forceful young men and women. Whether it is the elusive and intransigent voice of Poetra Ama Asantewa, or the mad rantings of Jahwi, or the lyrical pace of Akwapim Twi from Achibold Acheampong; or is it the cunning sense of the Ghanaian-Malagasy poet Crystal Tettey or the playfulness of Kojo Deynoo? Vocal Portraits II will surely make its mark as it weaves around the kente like it is supposed to. Nii Ayi Solomon, Afurakan, Lauren Goodwin, Mizan the Poet, Kwame Write, Sedi, Uniq Sistar, Sailor, Eden all make their mark.
Copies will be available at Koala in Osu and at Silverbirds as well. Some of the poems will also be uploaded to online platforms soon; but, rest assured, you can grab your copy at any of the many many poetry shows around town, from EHALAKASA at the Nubuke Foundation to RainMakers at Cafe Dez Amis.
The Spoken Word scene in Ghana has grown steadily over the past 8 years, alongside the mainstream poetry and other literary events. A great feature of spoken word poetry in Ghana is the emergence of recorded poetry (oftentimes with musical accompaniment). From the earliest times of Nii Lantey’s poetry CD to the single recorded spoken word from Mutombo, Mamacita among others, the form has taken shape.
Certainly, none of this would have been possible without the work of many writers who kept the faintest flame alive during the dark times of poetry in Ghana. Open Air Theatre, the Sunday weekly writers programme on Citi FM, created the platform for the earliest of the Spoken Word artists. Then finding a space at the Nubuke Foundation from around 2009-2010 was groundbreaking. If for nothing at all, more spaces must be created nationwide. No one group should feel crowded out. And if that feeling creeps in, you do what writers do: create. Perhaps it is time to interrogate the quality of work and to direct efforts at improving it. Here is to Vocal Portraits II!