Kofi Awoonor: “Poema encontrado” / “Found Poem”

Barack Obama at the Cape Coast Castle in Accra, Ghana, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza. Barack Obama durante su visita a la Fortaleza de la Costa del Cabo en Accra, Ghana, 2009. Foto de Peter Souza.

Barack Obama at the Cape Coast Castle in Accra, Ghana, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza. Barack Obama durante su visita a la Fortaleza de la Costa del Cabo en Accra, Ghana, 2009. Foto de Peter Souza.

Kofi Awoonor (Poeta de Ghana, 1935-2013)
Poema encontrado (1976)
En el este el día llega…
No digas que hemos empezado demasiado tempranito,
porque cruzaremos muchas cuestas
antes de envejecer.
Aquí la tierra es de una belleza sin par.
(Mao Tse Tung, 1934)
Miro hacia afuera de las barras de la Fortaleza,
la capa-corteza, la hilera embarrada de la edad;
en el rincón hay mi araña amigable
y se agacha por los jejenes incautos de mis días.
Hay tanto que debemos expiar.
Agujas de certeza
en las pinzas invisibles de arañas,
en el vuelo y curva de gaviotas.
Ellos conocen – yo juro –
los contornos de las Saharas onduladas,
y los océanos indigentes de nuestra historia.
Nos sentamos, y debatimos la caridad de nuestros captores.
Las luces están prendiendos,
la ribera se dobla en una bahía amplia
cerca de la Fortaleza; el mar es gris.
Ayer llovía en la víspera de mi año cuarenta y uno
– y esto dejó intactas todas mis derrotas.
Permíteme guiarte al campo.
Solo es como un semi-miembro del clan
de la cabra ritual
que puedo jalar al sitio del sacrificio mi canto.
Aquí en las canchas de dolor,
con el alquitrán y el humo de un gran fogón,
Mi riata es corta
pero pronto llegaré bajo del árbol.
Yo montaré ciento luchas para honrar a nuestros dioses
– y a nuestro líder amado.
En este lugar, no podrían resultarme más indiferentes

la masa esforzanda de la gente.
Aquí, en este lugar, me retiré antes de la Cuaresma,
hasta mi proprio trecho del frente de mar
– no puedo ver el maldito mar a causa de las paredes embarradas
construidas por los holandeses –
pero el litoral se cae en un golfo profundo;
no hay precipios.
Hallaron un bebé
– muerto de una semana –
enterrado en una tumba superficial
en el césped de la Fortaleza.
Pero yo quiero que mi tumba sea más honda.
Están serrando a través de nuestra leña.
Hoy es es día de la yuca;
el flautista queda silencioso;
quizás su tropa ha llegado en Georgia.
A no llegar me descompone,
pero, por el camino que yo he pisado,
no tengo ningunos arrepentimientos.
. . .
Del poemario La Promesa de Esperanza (The Promise of Hope): New and Selected Poems, 1964-2013,
© University of Nebraska Press, 2014.
. . .
Traducción del inglés al español: Alexander Best
. . .
Kofi Awoonor (Ghanaian poet, 1935-2013)
Found Poem (1976)
In the east, the day breaks; do not
say we have started too early;
For we shall cross many hills yet
Before we grow old; here
the land is surpassing in beauty.
(Mao Tse Tung, 1934)
I look out the bars upon the Castle
the crust, caked row of age;
in a corner my friendly spider
crouches for the unwary gnats
of my days.
So much there is we must atone.
There are spires of faith
in the invisible claws of spiders,
in the flight and curve of gulls.
These know, I swear,
the contours of the rolling Saharas
and the destitute oceans of our history.
We sit, debating the charity of our captors.

At night lights come on,
the shoreline bends into a broad bay
near the Castle;
the sea is grey.
Yesterday it rained on the eve
of my forty-first year
and left all my defeats intact.
Let me lead you into the country.
It is only as half clansman
of the ritual goat
that I bring my song to the place of sacrifice;
here in the pain fields,
asphalt and smoke of a large hearth,
I lead.
My rope is short.
I shall soon arrive under the tree.
I will stage a hundred fights in honour of our Gods
and our beloved leader.
Here, I could care less for the toiling masses.
I retreated here before Lent,
to my own stretch of sea front.
(I cannot see the damned sea
because of old caked walls
built by Dutchmen).
But the shore falls into a deep gulf;
there are no cliffs.
They found a week-old baby
buried in a shallow grave
on the front lawn of the fort.
I want my grave to be deeper.
They are sawing through our firewood.
Today is cassava day.
The flutist is silent;
perhaps his troops have arrived in Georgia.
Not to arrive upsets me,
And for the path that I have trod
I have no regrets.
. . . . .

Kofi Awoonor: “America” y “A los viejos poetas”

Kofi Awoonor_1935 to 2013

. . .
Kofi Awoonor (Ghanaian poet, 1935-2013)
A name only once
crammed into the child’s fitful memory
in malnourished villages,
vast deliriums like the galloping foothills of the Colorado:
of Mohawks and the Chippewa,
horsey penny-movies
brought cheap at the tail of the war
to Africa. Where indeed is the Mississippi panorama
and the girl that played the piano and
kept her hand on her heart
as Flanagan drank a quart of moonshine
before the eyes of the town’s gentlemen?
What happened to your locomotive in Winter, Walt,
and my ride across the prairies in the trail
of the stage-coach, the gold-rush and the Swanee River?
Where did they bury Geronimo,
heroic chieftain, lonely horseman of this apocalypse
who led his tribesmen across deserts of cholla
and emerald hills
in pursuit of despoilers,
half-starved immigrants
from a despoiled Europe?
What happened to Archibald’s
soul’s harvest on this raw earth
of raw hates?
To those that have none,
a festival is preparing at graves’ ends
where the mockingbird’s hymn
closes evening of prayers
and supplication, as
new winds blow from graves
flowered in multi-coloured cemeteries,
even where they say the races are intact.
From: The Promise of Hope: New and Selected Poems, 1964-2013 (University of Nebraska Press, 2014)
. . .
Kofi Awoonor (1935-2013) was born George Awoonor-Williams in Wheta, Ghana, to ethnic Ewe parents. He was a poet, literary critic, and professor of comparative literature; he served as a kind of “ambassador” for Ghana. Awoonor earned a BA from University College of Ghana, an MA from University College, London, and a PhD in comparative literature from SUNY at Stony Brook, New York state, U.S.A.. He wrote novels, plays, political essays, literary criticism, and several volumes of poetry, including Rediscovery and Other Poems (1964), Night of My Blood (1971), Ride Me, Memory (1973), The House by the Sea (1978), The Latin American and Caribbean Notebook (1992), and a volume of collected poems, Until the Morning After (1987).
Awoonor’s grandmother was an Ewe dirge singer, and the form of his early poetry draws from the Ewe oral tradition. He translated Ewe poetry in his critical study Guardians of the Sacred Word and Ewe Poetry (1974). Other works of literary criticism include: The Breast of the Earth: A Survey of the History, Culture, and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara (1975).
In the early 1970s, Awoonor served as chairman of the Department of Comparative Literature at SUNY Stony Book. He returned to Ghana in 1975 to teach at University College of Cape Coast. In Ghana, he was arrested and tried for suspected involvement in a coup d’état. He was imprisoned without trial and was later released; he wrote about his time in jail in The House by the Sea. Awoonor resumed teaching after his prison sentence. In the 1980s he was the Ghanaian ambassador to Brazil and Cuba and served as ambassador to the United Nations from 1990 to 1994; in 1990 he published Ghana: A Political History from Pre-European to Modern Times.
Awoonor is author of the novels This Earth, My Brother (1971) and Comes the Voyager at Last: A Tale of Return to Africa (1992). He died randomly with other innocents in the Westgate shopping-mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya in September of 2013.

. . .
“A los viejos poetas” por Kofi Awoonor de Ghana – su poema traducido en español durante El Festival de la Poesía Internacional de Medellín (Colombia), 2007:

Poets from Ghana: New Voices in 2015: Adwini-Poku, Dadson, Atsu, Nartey, Kyeraah

Sunflower in Toronto_Summer 2015
Lambert Adwini-Poku
“But Sometimes, When We Touch –”
But sometimes when we touch,
the tears of yesterday when eyes turned rain
and the heart felt alone in the crowd
that was when your voice set it free.
But sometimes when we touch,
the shadows of psychology and emotions
and the fullness of the mind with no data
that was when your face melted away loneliness.
But sometimes when we touch,
the warmth of anger and of its illness
and when no distinction was made
that was when your embrace smiled at me.
But sometimes when we touch,
the deafening of the sense organs
and when eyes, nose, and ears were meaningless
that was when your note in my hand breathed on me.
But sometimes when we touch,
the concept of reality and destiny
and of may and/or may not
that is when our lives are determined.
But sometimes when we touch,
we touch love and friendship.
. . .
Kay Dadson
“Paper Planes”
Sometimes, we fly like paper planes

Gliding in the air, silent, with no roar of a jet.

Sometimes proud, putting on the mane like we’re never gonna hit the dirt.

Changing our lanes every time we get hurt.

With the least turbulence and bad weather

We turn around or pummel to the ground when we experience danger.

Fly like a jumbo;

Not depending solely on the flow.

Fly majestically. Ride the wild winds.

Break through the ice in the clouds.

Even if you begin to fall,

Do not enter the state of dismay, whether in a stall.

This ain’t no mayday, do not make that call.

You may have struck ice,
but believe in yourself.
You ain’t no titanic.

This day isn’t that different. Enjoy it.

It’s a can-day.

Fire the engines once again. Make that ascent.

Be a jetfighter. Let the stars cream.

Like a transformer, make some changes.

As the typhoon, ride the winds. Take the journey across.

Your weakness may be air-to-ground but I think we all agree:

that isn’t your purpose.

Be a sidewinder missile. Seek your target,

Don’t give up. Do not explode. No. Not just yet.

Like the shuttle, launch into space, out of this domain.

Not even the sky is your limit.

Time to close this piece. Returning to base.

Continue to be who you are. Be different.
. . .
Patrick K. Atsu
“The Bleeding Heart”
Serenity blushes the shadows mild
And blow soft wind like “pepi”
As your dent romances me with pains
That worm over my body like death.
Erecting my emotions like breath
As disappointments walk me through this journey of solitary
With my prints clapping in the sands
Hiding my fears in clouds of tears.
As if there were no you tomorrow
Here the scorching sun shivers
Sharing her cries over my head
To console this bereft heart
That bleeds in tons of memories
With skips of pages one after the other
To silent the sweet tastes
That last but for a while.
It is this bleeding heart.

. . .

Jonathan Nartey
“How did Death find Me?”

How did Death find me?
I thought I was just dreaming.
O, like seriously:
I slapped death.
I know you can’t!
But I just did.
This is how I reprobated his blue.
I fetched the sky for him to sip
Since his throat was dusty
Like the harmattan.
Yet still a smile did not dance on his face.
The waft of the volcano slapped him up
So he was dripping here like a crying bottle
Filled with unflustered water.
Poor you!
O poor you!
I pleaded with the heavens
For the seed of air
Since Mr. Death was dripping here
Like nobody’s business.
Hm, hm, hm.
I can’t believe this.
Mr. Death is indeed a Judas.
Upon all the things I did for you, Mr. Death,
You made me devour the knife.
O Mr. Death,
So can you crunch the moon?
O Mr. Death,
O Mr. Death,
Did you know deep within that
I’m more than a Victor?
No, you don’t!
Yes! I know very well you don’t!
. . .

Dorothy Kyeraah
“I’m Pressing On Still”
On rocky ground I did fall

But up I got and still am pressing on

Tears did soak my pillow all day

But my heart be not weary

Oh I am pressing on

My eyes still on the prize

Though my feet hurt

I shall not rest

‘Cos am still holding onto the prize

With sore feet and trembling hands

I will crawl to the throne

To receive my own crown

Even with tattered clothes

I will retire not till I get hold of the gold.
. . .
Dorothy Kyeraah
“Gazing at the Sun”

Gazing at the sun in the late of the day

I am lost in thought of life so infinite

What tomorrow brings so bleak my mind goes wandering

Yet in this element lies the seed of life

Going down it casts its beautiful bright light

A sight so spectacular it blows my mind

It gets me to wonder at the power of the creator

And the awesome beauty it beholds

Colours so bright you just name them

As the day closes and this beauty fades away

It is almost as if all hope is lost

Yet early next morning there it is

Mighty Sun from the east does appear

Vibrant and majestic it shines in all glamour

And powers the whole earth.

. . . . .