the legacy

as i noted a few posts ago, i am currently living in Accra, Ghana, playing doting housewife to my partner, Marta, who is working here on a CIDA internship. my writing is coming slowly, but my reading and appreciation of Ghanaian poetry is rushing along. while it is endlessly difficult to find books in this city (beyond harlequin romances), whenever i come across a good shop the percentage of its shelves devoted to poetry always astounds me.

so far, the Ghanaian poet I encourage one and all to read is Kobena Eyi Acquah. his “In the Navel of the Soul” is taught to secondary school students here, and sweet god - if only we could have been so fortunate in high school. check him out, if you can find his work anywhere. if not, i’ll be back in March with a couple of his books (and i’d happily take orders for further copies, as books usually go for 1-3 bucks around here).

Marta and i spent much of the day yesterday at the University of Ghana, Legon, which has an excellent bookstore and library (where i read an issue of The Dalhousie Review featuring HAP contributor Jesse Ferguson). i mostly went to the library to attempt to discover whether The Legacy, a student-run lit journal that operated out of Legon in the 70s, was still functioning. short answer: heck no. in fact, the librarian was only able to find one dusty issue of The Legacy in the stacks. it was a bit crushing, but that one issue certainly was worth the effort put into the search. the poem below was pulled from it (with apologies from the author for not achieving prior approval, but damned if i can find you), and is representative of the high quality of the entire publication.

Hopefully, thirty years from now, people will be able to look back on what we are producing today with as much admiration.

We Are The Meaning

(To Nanaa)

Another day another world and
To live with dignity, to understand
That it is not easy to fly when
We have put our wings up for sale,
      So treat me warm, gentle presence:
There is no greater sadness here
Than the lonely life
A wholeness within, these longings
For a dim freedom, a just place -
      So where is this the choice, the essence?
Another day, other ways to
Mutter trembling apologies for
Nothing, for this tortured charade
Made of discarded bits of us all.
      And so we lean before the spell
Of the evil eye shaking our hands
Unbelieving, that this life is a dream
      That we are the meaning.

- Eugene Opoku-Agyeman
from The Legacy: A Student Literary Journal, University of Ghana, Legon
(Volume III, No. 2: September 1977)


Mike said...

Hey Rob,
I would love a Ghanaian poetry book or two if you get the chance. Start me a tab!

Jenn Ku said...


boy am i glad i decided to check out your blog again! i just took a peak at the photos you and marta have posted.

happy to find you're getting a chance to do a lot of reading... writing can come later, just take it all in now.

btw, i'd like to make a request too, bring me back a 5' yam. pretty please. i'm pretty fond of the "yam stall" picture, must be because my archaeobotany class is rubbing off on me...


Anna said...

Ghanaian poetry sounds neat - always expanding your horizons, I see. Good to hear you and Marta are doing well. I haven't been doing much writing myself - it'll start up again though. Once it's in you, it's hard to give up. :)