Marta and I spent a good part of 06/07 living in Accra, Ghana. We went because Marta received an internship through CIDA - I was the lucky tag-along. Between bouts of volunteering, traveling, and One Ghana, One Voice founding, I spent the majority of my time either being a housewife or writing. Not surprisingly, much of what I wrote ended up being about Ghana (though there were a few exceptions).
After paring off the exceptions, what I was left with was a collection of 40 or so Ghanaian-themed poems, a few of which I thought were really quite good. Considering that a number of them were fairly time sensitive (Ghana celebrated it's 50th anniversary in 2007, and many of the poems address this event and the issues that surrounded it) I sent them off like mad to journals and magazines in Canada and, lacking such venues in Ghana, Ghanaian newspapers. I managed to get three smaller poems into High Altitude Poetry, but beyond that everything was rejected.
It's understandable, really, that people weren't interested. Who in Canada cares about poems on Ghana, especially those which reference obscure elements of the country's history? Likewise, why would Ghanaians be interested in poems about their country written from an outsider's perspective in a foreign idiom? They are weird poems which don't have a natural home, so I wasn't all that surprised that they were passed over.
But the problem was that I really, really liked them. So when I got back to Canada I stubbornly compiled a chapbook of twelve of the stronger poems and sent it around to chapbook publishers. I also sent all the poems back out for a second round of journal rejections. Well, the chapbook thing seems to be heading in a familiar direction (80% rejection, 20% unaccounted for). The journal thing, though, is, for god-knows-what reason, starting to yield some results.
All of a sudden, The Antigonish Review, The Dalhousie Review and Kemeny Babineau's The New Chief Tongue have picked up poems - and not just any poems, some of the poems most heavily laced with Ghanaian historical and cultural references. It's been a pleasant surprise, and has shaken my belief in the provincial nature of Canadian literature (a little bit).
It's also made me more determined to self-publish the chapbook and get it out soon. I only need to get to printing the covers and the second edition of splattered earth will be done, then it's on to this new project. At the rate I've been working lately, though, it could take months...
My point, though, is that it is coming - a year later than I wanted it to, perhaps - but coming nonetheless. Likewise, I've been planning on posting the aforementioned poems here, but I think I might put them up as gap-fillers during slow periods on One Ghana, One Voice instead - so if you're interested, keep checking in there.
For now, thanks to those East-coast (coincidence?), Ghana-loving magazines for giving these strange little beasts of mine a shot...