Ghost Town – Student Writing (Part 5)

This is the fourth and final composition piece in the Student Writing Series.

See the Introduction to the series, and the first, second and third composition pieces.

*

It was nearing midnight in the town of Afien.

Mr Firsch, my guardian had just finished shaving his bristle moustache and was happily under his bed covers, drifting into Lalaland. Everyone else was asleep.

Except Me.

I was not going to sleep tonight.

I was high up on the local hill, taking more than just a peep at the legendary Ghost Town.

Ghost Town was, till now, a myth told us by our grandparents and those before them. The story went that every night, hours after we were all coiled and asleep in our beds, our ancestors rose from death and grave and relived moments full of life and zest underneath the hill, in the bottomless abyss of nothingness. I thought of all this as fickle – that our grandparents took too many swigs of beer before they came to fib to us. I thought…

Until Now.

From the top of the hill I could see Ghost Town. It had this light blue colour and everything there was an eerie shade of this light blue.

The buildings were different, each from the other – from mighty skyscrapers to meek thatched serf huts made of light blue mud and straw. Then there were a gigantic marble church, a magnificent gothic museum, a soccer pitch which almost looked perfect for me to flaunt my supreme sports skills, and no, not a school in sight.

Ghost Town looked everything like the dream place everyone wanted to be but did not know. Yet.

I could see all those who had gone before me: the millionaire who died in an aircraft crash, perched at the top of his mansion; my grandparents walking on the pavement, bobbing their heads to the jazz band playing in a massive amphitheatre close by; my lively dead dog, Fifi, running furiously from street to street and back; Mrs Firsch, the lovely lady who used to treat us kids to baked goodies; and Clifton, the madman who used to ramble on and forever about the existence of this place when he was alive and was part of the day and earthly side of Afien.

He looked quite sane now. Clifton.

Ghost Town really had it all.

CloudYOU! Dusk.

Photo mine. Circa 2014. Dusk. Somewhere not far from Lapaz, in Accra, Ghana.

I was so enthralled by the city’s awesomeness that I nearly did not hear the bell chime for 5 o’clock.

Soon, the sun began its steady climb up the sky and Ghost Town began to disappear, in bits and splits. All the ghosts rose into the air and flew towards the nearby cemetery. The blue buildings – virtually everything – sublimed into the clay chasm.

Everyone, everything was soon gone.

Except Me.

Pondering.

“Was it necessary to go back to Afien, really necessary to go through constant troubles, to be confused and consumed by all the evils of the world, to be soured and pained by men – humankind, in general?

Were all these pains and troubles necessary when paradise was just a mere death away?”

Anyway.

…so the next time you see me – probably with a crooked neck, or a broken back, or wobbly legs or whatever I sacrificed to get here – I will probably be sprinting laps with Fifi, or swimming in the town pool or lying on the ghost blue grass wearing a big smile and looking at you, telling you I am in a better place…

*

Bio:

Keli

Photo mine. A picture of Keli.

Keli Dey loves what many of his peers loathe: Jazz, Football, Comic Strips. The list never ends.

He loves to read too, and to seek and come to love new book genres.

He is an undying, unapologetic fan of 8’o clock business shows and premier league interviews – he thoroughly enjoys crushing his amateurish classmates on any FIFA game.

Like your typical gawky 14 year old, Keli doesn’t often express his thoughts in the open, unless he is coerced, many times, for far too long…

But give him a piece of paper. And a decent pen.

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Friday, 29th March, 2019.

Waiting – Student Writing (Part 4)

This is the third composition piece in the Student Writing Series. See the Introduction to the series, and the first and second composition pieces.

*

Have you ever felt your heart beat so loud that you thought there was a little green elf – shaped like an alphabet and with tiny green shoes – clanging onto a huge Taipei gong in your heart? Well, that was me yesterday.

It was 5 hours to Christmas.

And there I was. A cute seven year old boy from Greenland, a boy so tiny a sesame seed could be a thousand and three times bigger. There I was. With straight-blonde hair snipped to the level of my bent over shoulders, with eyes as bright and glamorous as an Asian model’s make up set. Altogether so glittery!

Again, there I was. With short, pointed nose and flaccid eyebrows and a little pink mouth. A tiny boy I was indeed, but I could swear my heart was way bigger than Jupiter. So naive and innocent I was – and perhaps, still is – and filled with so much anguish and too much curiosity.

I was waiting for Santa to come down my old, brick-red, dusty chimney. To the fireplace.

I was anxious and some.

An hour went by. Then 2. Three. And then 4.

I struggled all night to fight the sleep that came to tame my eyes and undo all the wake I had been keeping. Thankfully, victory was mine and it was just 30 minutes before midnight.

I could feel my heart pumping and pounding at least six times per second. I kept glaring at the Old Bulgarian plastic clock that sat comfortably on top of the seven-foot polished, Brazilian wooden shelf, the shelf that I have always believed has been in this house long before my dad was in diapers.

15 minutes to midnight, and it almost felt as if a group of 100 meter track runners were sprinting up and down my belly. I had butterflies and even more butterflies and maybe birds too…

I could not believe I was actually going to see him. The mysterious man sporting that long, white, fluffy, cotton-candy-like beard. And I was prepared for all of it!

I was in my newest pyjamas, the one mum had bought for me a few days ago. My pyjamas boasted of a neon green colour, had Christmas trees on them, and its soft cotton-material made my skin feel warm, made me feel calm. Well, at least, it was meant to, but the curiosity and anxiety of my wait will not let me be truly still. Goosebumps dotted and marched all over my body, leaving my arms looking like the skin of an uncooked chicken wing.

The minutes slithered past with painful leisure. But soon, it was left with very few more minutes before…

LoveCokctail 8

Picture mine: At a beach to reflect, write and such – around Labadi, Accra.Ghana; Sunday, December 2, 2018.

It was time! One minute to midnight. And I could not really really keep calm.

I began to dream and imagine what Santa would look like – how he would react when he saw me, how I would react when I too saw him. All these ideas and expectations made my head a tad hot, and my stomach, sick from all the butterflies and birds flapping…

But I was not going to be stopped. Nor was I going to be robbed of this so-soon-to-come crown of my victory. Not today!

30 seconds to midnight and that was when my little, prickly and sticky fingers began to jiggle and tingle like a naughty fish now out of water. My toes went numb and my feet, cold.

15 seconds to midnight and my petite thighs began to tremble like no known volcano, and my blood felt like a quadrillion volts of electricity was being pumped into it.

11 seconds.

Ten, 9, eight, 7, six, 5, four…

3 seconds left to see the man of my many many dreams, and I went “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!”

I slept.

How?!

Just How?!!

*

Bio:

Papa - pcture

A picture of Papa Ekow.

Papa Ekow Archine is a bubbly and lovable 15 year old boy with an awesome, magnetic personality.

He is currently a student at Alpha Beta Christian College, Accra.

Ekow loves British accents but definitely not as much as he loves and lives for basketball – he devotes much of his time to playing and learning about the sport.

Once in a long while, when he allows melancholia to swallow him, he waxes all creative and beautifully so.

Ekow is all these and more but also, always, simply Ekow!

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Thursday, 28th March, 2019.

Makola and Her Market – Student Writing (Part 3)

This is the second composition piece in the Student Writing Series. See the Introduction to the series and the first piece.

*

Today, I was at Makola Market.

There were people shouting whispers.

A small, sharp-eyed kayayo girl held my things. She wore an all-black ensemble. No, ‘ensemble’ suggests it was a choice. She was dressed toe to head and back in black – maybe to mourn her life. She seemed new to it all. The work and jerk of city life. The rowdiness and shabbiness of the people. The pain and disdain it all assured.

I stepped in dog dung.

A man yelled an insult at a woman. It was deadly. But it was lovingly so. The insult.

The people were an orchestra of madness, sanity shining through their eyes. Almost escaping.

I saw a young boy. He was sweating a desperation. Flicking his fingers in some despair. Yelling a cry.

I moved a step. I walked over to the little boy.

I asked him “Little boy, what’s wrong?”

Nothing. The boy said. Nothing.

**

Yesterday, I was at Makola Market. I was agitated.

The place was noisy like my life. Everyone bargained. It all sounded like a song that adored its own cacophony, enthralled by it. I smelled a bulimia-inducing aroma of rotten fish.

A little dark-eyed kayayo girl was carrying my basket. She clutched it like it was her very life. She looked depressed. But it should be no crime to be depressed. Or?

My heart was beating really fast because I knew something significant was going to happen. I thought, maybe, I was going to have a heart attack.

So when a man tried to bully me into purchasing a tomato, I said something crude about his mother. It was funny. The insult.

The man yelled a different insult at me. Something lethal. Yet affectionately so. (I took it like a man but, wait… I am a woman.)

Accra London Market

Photo mine. A scene at the London Market, around the Korle Lagoon, Bukom and James Town, all of Ga Mashi or British Accra.                            Circa May 2017.

Everyone, everything at the market at Makola was the masterpiece of a morbidly deranged soul. I could see calm in everyone’s eyes. The calm shone in the derange-, was trapped in something sinister. Not by it.

Then I saw a little boy. In a fit of urgency. Wagging his hands, like he had touched something hot, like something was going to hurt him. Screaming with a pitch, some bright pitch.

So I moved, my left foot going in front of the right, then the right in front of the left, and again. And again.

I ran into a little boy.

I asked him, “Little boy, what’s the matter?”

The boy said, “Woman, you’ve already asked me this”.

I returned, “Me? When?”

“You asked me this tomorrow,” said the little boy.

Soon, it was dark.

**

Tomorrow, I will be at Makola Market.

I will be frustrated because I will not be able to find some proper woman to sell me the right fabric for that wedding I will be going.

All the homo-sapiens will have become monkeys. Back to origins. All of them will be behaving in a manner that terrifies.

I will beg my headache to run. Threaten it with my words and words alone, even. But there will be nothing to show for my feisty begging.

The eclectic slow-fast of the market will haunt me, will continue to.

There will be a petite, intense-eyed kayayo girl struggling with my endless baggage. A baggage filled with useless things that have hauntingly beckoned me. The girl will not be happy whatsoever.

My heart will leave my chest.

A man will use very much force to get me to buy his temptingly juicy tomato but, I will say something vulgar to him. Something about me will excuse my arrogance. Barely.

This man will yell something else offensive at me. Something fatal. But romantically so.

The whole of Makola’s market will be soaked in the ripened instability that a devilish kind of disorder will adore.

At this point, I will look across where I stand and I will see a child-boy.

This boy will be crossing that intricate line that mediates madness and sanity. This same boy will be doing something sorrowful with his fingers.

So I will walk, get close to him, ask him, “Little boy, are you okay?”

With what seems a sour lump in his throat, the boy will reply:

“No, I am not!”

The boy will not wait for me to ask him why with my eyes, my whole face, before he will declare:

“There’s this woman who keeps asking me questions. Everyday.”

“For how long?” I will get the chance to ask.

“I-”

“How long?!”

“You already know. You are that woman.”

Calm will come.

Everything blue will turn red – from the sky to the tulips that may never afford the space and peace to live and be. Here.

The clouds will be like scars and I will weep softly on that loud street – the one in the middle of Makola, a street in the middle of a market at Makola.

 

*

Bio:

IMG_5707

A picture of Kojo.

Kojo Obeng-Andoh lives in Accra, Ghana. Currently.

He likes to think he is more of a creative than your typical teenager. He lives on Art, Literature and Lorde’s music. In no particular order, and not to say this list is exhaustive.He likes to also live in the worlds of his writing, drawing, painting and music.

He likes to think about the most absurd of ideas and let them put on reality. He likes to take his time – something most people will rather call laziness.

He likes his work to be described as “dark and sweetly dizzying”.

And this is only one of several ICONIC reasons he likes to thinkinsists on believing, actually – that he is Miss Nelson’s favourite student.

And he likes to think you will see more from him soon…

*

Glossary:

Kayayoo – a head porter, usually females, at open markets.

Makola (Market) – the vast open market and central business district Accra, Ghana’s capital city.

 

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Wednesday, 27th March 2019.

Coolest Kid in Africa – Student Writing (Part 2)

This is the first composition piece in the Student Writing Series. See the Introduction to the series. 

* * *

My worst nightmare as a journalist was waiting for Nasty C at the airport, waiting to interview him. Celebrities are difficult to get interviews with and getting to interview one of the biggest singers in Africa was my best and scariest experience yet.

His scheduled arrival time was nine thirty-seven pm and I got there at nine. I had to wait for thirty-seven long minutes. In those thirty and seven long minutes, I experienced more things than my introverted self could contain in years.

I carried all sorts of snacks – Doritos, Lays, Sour Patches, Haribos, Tree Top, Hot Cheetos, Onion Rings and Sprite – in my bag. Because I know myself. When I have to meet someone for the first time, I eat a lot, I need to eat a lot – a whole lot.

I opened a bag of Cheetos and Sour Patches and munched loudly, so loud that about five people too waiting for whoever they came to fetch glared at me with the deadliest of looks. I couldn’t blame them. I chew loudly – and not at all pretty loudly at at that.

I put the Cheetos and Sour Patches away and started a conversation with a girl of about seven standing next to me. I asked her the normal questions, in the beginning – like her name and why she was alone at a crowded place like this.

Conversation was going well and smooth.

nasty c 2.jpg

Image may be protected by copyright. A painting-picture of Nasty C, a popular South African rapper, song writer and music producer.

Then I switched to asking questions I didn’t mean to ask – like does she know how her parents made her and if her parents have sexual intercourse in her presence. The little girl just walked away from me and I got eyed by the incredibly tall woman behind me. She seemed to have heard my questions. She did not look happy.

After my encounter with the little girl, I decided not to talk anymore to anyone, and to just look around. And that was how I saw couples kissing, as they had been away from each other for so long. Then there were the people on their phones, busily texting away, not paying attention to their young ones.

The second best thing I saw that night was a boy who looked between seventeen and twenty running towards a girl of about the same age range. This boy. He carried the girl and lip locked the girl. My eyes got watery. And oh no, I was not, I am not a bad person – only misunderstood. Very misunderstood.

I got tired of looking around and opened a bag of Lays Original. I munched less aggressively – or loudly, perhaps – this time, and no one gave me any death stares.

From the corner of my left eye, I saw someone come stand next to me and I glanced at the person. This person looked friendly, so I started a conversation with him. I started off nice with him, nice things like the news. I was determined not to let my recent experience with the little girl get repeated.

But.

Soon, the spirit of wild talk stirred within me, again, and I asked him if he had ever eaten a huge fly garnished with crushed worms and termites. He gave me the Sorry-but-are-you-okay-in-the-head-? look and did something I never expected: he yelled –

“Sorry, I have a girlfriend so I can’t date you!”

E.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. looked at me, some with disgust, others with sympathy and the rest with the oh-she’s-a-whore look. I was so embarrassed I looked down at my shoes, my cheeks, my whole face flushed of life.

Even my shoes. They looked like they were judging me.

 

feet and heart shape twig

Picture mineA heart-tied stick I chanced on, while on a trip to selected locations in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The specific location here is a footpath to one newly discovered waterfall – Akaa Falls – which is still being developed as a tourist site. –– Thursday, 14th June, 2018.

When the megaphone announced the arrival of the nine-thirty-seven plane, I couldn’t stand still, I got all fidgety. I played with my hair and my many bracelets. I twitched my lips and let my tongue dance around my teeth. I pretended I didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone, because I was so scared of the looks they would give me. While I was playing and sorts, my head hung down.

Then I heard whispers, muffled noises around me.

I raised my head, only to see Nasty C coming out…

I blurred everyone out as the best feeling ever rushed through me. The presence of Nasty C blessed my nightmare of an evening. I forgot all about what had happened while I was waiting for him. I remembered I should have pulled out the little placard with his name on, so that he could notice me and when I raised the card, he started walking towards me.

I pictured myself running away with a speed greater than light’s because of all the worries I had. What if he is rude? What if he doesn’t like me? Is my hair fine?

Before I could finish thinking through all my worries, I was tapped by someone, and suddenly wrapped in same person’s arms. I looked up. I saw Coolest Kid in Africa written all over the person who had tapped and trapped me, the person who had me all wrapped up. Nasty C.

*

 

FullSizeRender

Picture hers. A picture of Akosua. 

Bio:

Akosua Kumbol is also Ri.

She is the role model of your typical crazy girl.

She knows the rules to break them.

She is her own girl and person and boss.

She loves to read, and she hates to write but when she does, magic happens.

 

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Saturday, 23rd March 2019. 

Of Cool Kids, Makola Market, Christmas Waits and Culled Worlds – Introduction: Student Writing (Part 1)

I have written briefly once and quite long and  several about Teacher me and the students who make that self of mine a living truth and reality.

I have mentioned and implied more time than many about how Writer me is never left behind in the life of Teacher me.

54524567_2257207160998437_5096748762865336320_n

Image may be protected by copyright.

But I may never be able to fully write or talk about the vast-s and weights of these two parts of me – the places where they smudge and pour into each other to soon become purely the other, the times they swell and swirl alongside each other and yet remain resolute in their uniqueness-es and their intersections and their molten mixed forms.

These I many never be able to find the words to write or talk about.

Teacher and Writer me, that is.

But I can talk about what happened while I was grading a quiz which I recently conducted for my current Grade 10 IGCSE First Language English students.

I can say how I had to fight and free myself from an abiding personal ethic of not sharing any extract or chunk from, and full written work of any of my students, of not sharing such things with a community other than the class in question and outside of the (college end of  the) school where I teach.

And I can never say enough how sadly glad and glad again and far more so I am right now to come sharing…

At the moment, and because I am not able to imagine myself quitting teaching – or education, altogether, in the near future, in any future, my future – I cannot promise that this will be the first and only time I will be sharing only and fully student work, especially work I en-JOY!-ed being a part of its making and or was happy being a sudden spectator at the time of its making.

54433118_2257223480996805_901404843908792320_n

Image may be protected by copyright.

I cannot even pretend to make such a promise.

But I do know that I am proud of my students and I am happy and proud and again and more, to share four of the responses from said quiz with you, Reader Dear.

And in in order for you, Reader Dear, to read and see these work for the raw truth and story and unpretentious beauty and personality they each are, I thought to not:

  • make known the question or prompt which these work were responses to.
  • give any summary and description – no label whatsoever – of any of these work.

I must mention that I have spoken long and wide – including helping them write what will be their first author bios! – with the four students whose work I have selected for this series, and I have their consent and better, their very giddy gladness-es, to publish their work.

Also, very little changes and edits have been made to the first and original versions of each work, work produced under strict exam-like conditions. And these changes or edits. They were largely based on the marking annotations and feedback I gave, and always give (to) these students – and every other – on graded written work.

Yes, I just implied my students are such huge writers! Already.

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Image may be protected by copyright.

I must mention too, that, Composition, the component (of the said examination) that required responses of this nature and length, is meant to test more than English language proficiency.

A careful look at the component’s mark scheme – as at the time I write this – should prove this: a total of 25 marks, consisting of:

  • up to 13 marks for a criterion called Content and Structure.
  • no more than 12 marks for another criterion called Style and Accuracy.

This component of said subject of said examination. Composition.

The mark scheme criteria for same component. Same Composition.

What these three of four things mean to me?

 

Words. Creativity. Writing. Words again.

Creating. With words. Creating worlds. Weaving worlds. With words.

Or simply, Creative Writing!

And it is for the loves and heart-skips, the joys and mind-tickles of these that I, many a time, approach the mountain and chore that grading students’ work can be for many many a Teacher – not excluding me.

And it is with all immense mind-tickles and joys, such surreal heart-skips and loves for writing and creative writing, for words and the wonders of their creations that I bring you, Reader Dear, the four selected writing from a recent quiz that Teacher me conducted for my Grade 10 IGCSE First Language English students:

Coolest Kid in Africa  by Akosua Kumbol.

Makola and her Market by Kojo Obeng Andoh.

Waiting by Papa Ekow Archine.

Ghost Town by Keli Dey.

can use me plus students 2

(Feature) Picture mine: Some of my current Grade 10 students and me – fourth from right, in white loose blouse, three-quarter jeans and orange-brown wedge shoes – during a retro dress up school day–Wednesday, 17th October, 2018.

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Tuesday, 19th March 2019.

Aisle. Bougainvillea. Concrete. Creativity. (ABCC)

It stands hard, jutting out of the earth like an after-thought. Buried under grass and smothered by sun, the earth bakes. It stands in the middle of a carpet that is supposed to be green but has patches of beige – dead yellow, actually – in places. With a minty personality, the petrichor from the past days’ heavy rains – or is it the dampness from withered attempts at watering the grass? – is tangible. Almost.

Half a pace, three paces and nine others from it are three hexagonal bricks. They seem scattered until I cannot ignore the near-straightness of the line they make. The bricks. The calculated accident, the look of it, the meagre semblance of life – the airs of it all – make for a bleak wonder, a bland feast for the eyes. Mine, at least. Here are others like it, others made of solid stone and man-made mould.

Scattered others. Standing it.

mob-blog-1-straight-mob

It stands still, sporting a lace of spirogyra gone black and flaky with sun and its cohort elements. Four iron rods of varying lengths poke out of its top surface. It stands in the midst of green blades and beige pins. Like a phantom hood, a shadow trails its tangible reality. It is fringed with dripping concrete that will never fall. A straight crease of concrete stretches in the middle of its length. It stands, stuck  in a cuboid. At its edges, stones – a black one there, a red stone there, a bland one here and there – stray out of the mould.

Maybe, just maybe it would not have struck me as something to write about, if two mops are not splayed on it. The mops’ bulky, heavy heads weigh them down. And the sun pours heat and crack into their shriveled wood pores, the sun showers wear-upon-tear into their generous locks of cotton hair,

It stands low. Standing much higher beside it is a boy holding a notebook, and flicking a pencil. He is wearing grey trousers and short-sleeved white shirt. He is also wearing a sage, searching look. And he is there, beside it, to eke an inspiration, force a muse out of it. When he is not jotting down fragments and chunks of thought which must have yielded themselves to him, the boy stands frozen, caught up in the clamp of creating-by-rigourous thinking.

I sit on one of the four lovers’ bench under a brick aisle draped with bougainvillea in bloom. A few students share this space with me. Like them, and the boy, and others I cannot see as yet, I lift and tilt my head, look and think, and then scratch my notepad with a pencil. I will do this over and again, it turns out, but in no particular order. And in this, I know, I am not alone

The minutes slip and shuffle and slide past.

lovers-bench-to-chairs-dark

One last time, I let my eyes scan and drink in all around me. I return them on the paper on my laps, with pencil held in readiness between fingers. I quickly string the scratches on my paper with lines and numbers and asterisks. I knot it all up, in my mind. Then I get up. From the lover’s bench.

Careful not to rudely rouse him from his thought-world, I call the boy and tell him it is about time to return to the classroom.

I go to gather the other students.

Two are tucked in the school bus nearby. They could be writing about anything inside and outside of the bus. I tell them what I told the boy.

grafitti

On the block at the far end of the premises, three or four students variously gaze at a dustbin, Ghana’s flag, a flowerbed, a high and wide  doodle-like mural and anything but and in between these.  I take no more than three crisp strides towards them.

One notices me. We lock eyes, briefly. In between that time, I stop and signal the message.

Soon, word is going round.

On my way past the bus, back to my seat, I spot more students.

A few students sit on the benches in front of the block at the far left end. These could be intently looking at anything from the football pitch and basket ball court and their poles; through the air and trees filling the huge empty middle of premises; to the college block on the other end. Everything around, it seems to these and the other students, slowly sheds off its mundane self. And in the light of imagination and with the help of inspiration, everything in and of the campus puts on life and insight and character, layer after texture and again.

mob-blog-1-pots-in-garden

One student, a girl in velvet-framed eyeglasses, seemed happily wrapped in solitude. Through a bar of metal and concrete and another spread of bougainvillea, she gazes at the street in front of the premises. The street. It is bustling and buzzing with a cocktail of activities and sounds from mostly humans and machines, the pace of all which is dictated by a long green pole with three lights for eyes.

Then there goes the bell. The first of the two periods for First Language English is gone.

Before this, we had all come out.

After I had explained the instruction and told them when we are to return to the class, they had gone their many chosen ways to hunt what or who to write about.

mob-blog-1-shakespeare-freeze-frame

Picture: Some of the students in a ‘Freeze Frame’ of Act 3 Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Here, Mercutio and Tybalt fight, the latter getting hurt (killed) under Romeo’s arm. Circa April 2016.

They know to file back into the class, where they will glean a Composition, a Description, from all the seeing and thinking and jotting and drafting they have been doing many minutes ago. And they long know that I cherish their Imagination and Discretion more than I do the Subject Matter they would have settled on.

corridor

I follow the file, towards the classroom on the first floor of one of three blocks, the college block.

I look forward to the worlds now shut up in their notebooks, worlds on their way to the sheltered box-ness of a classroom, worlds on their way to knowing the chipping and chiseling and polishing and finally, painting of re-writing.

I look forward to the grande unveiling too. The Sharing-via-Reading session. And more.

Oh, how eager I am to see the grace, the riches, the glories with which they paint those worlds. With imagination, wild and free. With worlds on the wheels of words.

Just words!

mob-blog-1-skewed-mob

I do not know if any of them know that I ended up taking part in the exercise, that I too wrote something:

This piece you are about to finish reading.

Meanwhile, it remains standing, hard and low and still, till who-knows-when. This stub of pillar. And the mops remain on it.

 

Love,

AishaWrites,

AndTeaches. Too.

Poetry Pours. In Class.

There has been countless times in my life as a Teacher of Literature in English when I have needed a poem – or a story or an anecdote, anything – more than the one(s) my students and I readily have in hand, in order for us to grasp a concept or to see a pattern unfurl. In order to watch the outcome of tweaking or overhauling what is seen as the typical, the rule (read, literary convention).  Or in order to explore just about anything about the boundless ways that Poetry works.

I have explained, once and again, how I will (forever) be  wary to call myself a Writer. I am even more careful to go saying who ought to call him/herself Writer and who, in the common, supreme interest of humanity’s sanctity, unity and all, should denounce pen or pencil and paper or anything(s) which so much as suggests anything (creative) writing. In fact, I do not consider it my place to say any such thing. At least, not now, and maybe not until forever too is past.

For this reason, I would rather talk about a particular piece, taking great care to not let my perception – or even ‘prejudice’ – of its writer get in my way of encountering and making meaning of the said piece. I may go on to make great fuss about why I so much respect and adore the piece. And too many times than I can forgive myself for, I may as soon, also, go on to forget the name of the said piece’s writer, before I even know it!

But for this great fuss, I would rather be silent altogether, I would not judge a writer or any piece of writing for that matter. Because if not for anything at all, writing means so many things and serves some of the most obscure reasons and purposes for those who ply in the craft, whether or not they (choose to) describe themselves with that demure word. Writer. Because there will always be those people for whom writing – no matter what the rest of the world chooses to call or describe or make of theirs – remains the one, or one of the few reasons or things which keeps them sane and breathing…

Having said this, it has also never been that a certain poem or piece of literary work which my students and I had in hand had not been good (enough), in and of its own self, for what needed to be taught and understood. Rather, it has almost always been more of a need for a further, an-other example.  And it is at such times when Poetry – or Story or other of the genres – pays my class an awesome visit. It is moments like this that Poetry pours into a class I happen to be teaching.

It might have been many days or only an hour ago when I last wrote anything new – even if it is something that may never come full circle and rounded. Whatever be the case, Poetry (and or Story) has always found its way into my lessons, sometimes, when poetry is not even the topic, but only that I HAVE to mention something about it, even if in passing, because this something has a link with some other thing which my Literature class is studying about say, a short story. Something like Writer’s Use of Language – including, but not limited to Diction and Imagery – it may as well be Tone or some other Trope or even Syntax! – to achieve a particular effect on reader.

Two poems posted in an earlier blog titled Verse-sions of Love. Some., specifically the first verse of Tears in the Rain and one of the early drafts of Brown, are other of my poems which poured when Writer-in-me met or came to the rescue of ‘wanting’ Literature-Teacher me.

How I get my poured poems back after the lesson is ended? I ask one of my students for his/her note book. Then I copy my poem. Sometimes, I am lucky to have a thoughtful student write it on a separate, very decent sheet of paper and bring it to me after class – all without my having asked. A student like Keklevi Ansah, the writer of When Father Comes Home From the War, one of the poems featured in my Fifteen Pieces of Literature: Fifteen Shades of What They Call Love series.

for blog - Potry Pours.

I will later cut parts out, patch or pad up others and do some tinkering and chiseling here and there, until I arrive at something, a poem more polished like Yours,, Blue and Source, as shown here.

Perhaps, I must add that it is not every poem that have poured while I was teaching that I have gone on to glean something out of.

 

Yours, poured when I needed something short and simple to explain how:

  • generally, the term Verse refers to any poem, whether a straight one-stanza piece or each of the major ‘chunks’ of lines (minor ones, usually optional, would be what is often called ‘refrain’ or ‘chorus’, same line/s repeated after every major ‘chunk’) in a piece of poem. In Lyrical Poems, which are known for their strong rhyme and or rhythm patterns, it is typical for a verse – in both sense of it – to contain one or more marked, full unit of thought. Examples of Lyrical Poems include sonnets, ballads (may double as Narrative Poems), villanelles and limericks. 
  • It is not always the case that a verse, especially as a major set of lines in a poem, has a full unit of thought. For Open Forms like Free Verse and Concrete Poems, a verse or stanza or portion of a poem can consist of 1 or 26 lines, any of which may also consist of a word, even the article ‘a’ or ‘the’, or  who knows? even a punctuation mark! Thus, it is not quite accurate or even safe to define a verse in terms of chunk(s) of complete (unit/s of) thought/s. This is because, a poem may contain one or more such units, any or all of which may ‘spill’ into a next line or set of lines, which is clearly set off from the rest of a poem with a line space i.e. a stanza or verse. This ‘spillage’ of one piece of thought from one line or verse/stanza of a poem to another line or verse/ stanza is what is called Run-on-lines or Enjambment.
  • Hence, Yours, can be said to have 1 unit of thought unevenly spread in 5 verses/ stanzas. Source has 2 parallel units of thought neatly structured in 2 stanzas – no ‘spillage/s’, no Run-on-lines or Enjambment across verses/ stanzas – but across lines in the same verse/stanza, definitely!  Depending on how one reads Blue, there are several, more than 8 units of thoughts cast in 3 tricky stanzas. 


Blue
poured in answer to a further example of a Colour Poem. With six to eight lines, a Colour Poem can loosely be described as a poem about the feelings/ emotions and images evoked when one thinks of a particular colour. Usually, the name of the colour does not appear anywhere in the poem, but may be used as the poem’s title. Unlike Blue here however, Colour Poems, typically come compact, in one stanza.

Source is one of the pieces which poured with quick, excited, earnest eagerness. And it proved far too generous with what I needed if for:

  • to show how repetition of not only words, but also, sounds, structure and form can be exploited for a beautiful and meaningful effect on the reader, rather than the repetition coming across as boring and plain lazy; or irritating or jarring at worst.
  • to illustrate how incremental repetition works: adding layers of extended layers of meaning on and to that which has been previously said, irrespective and in spite of the fact that each new repetition (and or line/s) brings the poem nearer and closer to its end – on page, at least.
  • to hint at how the ‘shape’ of a poem (especially a Concrete Poem) on a page can contribute to or magnify its meaning. For example, note how the rough arrow-head shape of Source‘s stanzas – together with its title, and (how the last line ends) – contributes to the (possible) meaning/s of the poem…

And now, three of many Poured Poetry:

1. Yours,
dancing in the rain
on
a

moonless, starry weeknight
is
(a

way) to
find mind
when you

mess up – sorry, pack up – after
you’ve lost guard – no, lost heart – and broken it

too.

17-May-2016

 

2. Blue
cloudless, high skies nudge edge of watery
goodness. splashes tail dives, stillness stirs.
coolness, clean and crisp melt into yawning
calmness. ripples trace waves, silence purrs.

Life is fluid, giddy with measured warmth.
Life is full,  tipsy with myriads of smudged,
swaying pictures. Happiness happens.

Happiness has a name. Happiness
has a thick, indulgent white hue


circa 23-October-2012

 

3. Source
Between my
ear and my eye
are worlds, worlds far
too vast for my shoulders to
bear in a month
a minute, a
lifetime

Between my
tongue and my teeth
reside words, words ready
to create, and call and cast into
being shapes and forms
and lives, as I am
given…

18-January-2016

 

Love,
AishaWrites
AishaTeaches. Too.

Dansoman, Accra.
Thursday, 19-May-2016.

 

P.S.:

The FEATURED IMAGE of this post is a picture of one of many submitted Poetry Portfolios I received as individual student end-of-term project, an initiative I undertook when I used to teach Grades 7 to 9 Literature in English, towards the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) curriculum.

From their understanding and exploring of all that is taught and learnt about Poetry – the peculiarities of the genre; its types and forms; its styles and ways of communicating both surface and implicit meanings; and exceptions to all these and more others etc. – throughout the term, students are required to produce a given number/collection of original poems in a printed, comb-bound copy.

I share and agree on all the details and instructions for the project at the very onset of the term with my students, including the fact that the project forms a major part of their academic grade for the term in question.

Like any real thesis, I supervise and guide students, individuallythroughout the term, and outside normal class hours: how to generate ideas for their poems; how to work their drafts/writing into effective, thoughtful and exceptional pieces; how to break conventions and or make these ‘rules’ work for them, or add to the intended message/s or overall effect of their pieces et al. 

In as much as I make my lessons fun and accessible to all my students, those students who discover that they (can) love Poetry after all!…and so they even want to continue writing more – and not only Poetry – I am all too glad to encourage and mentor them.

The projects are usually Poetry for First Term, Prose for Second Term and Drama for Third Term.

The project in Drama, unlike those for Poetry and Prose, is a group project for which not only a play script is submitted for grading, but there is also a day set aside – usually close to the end of the term – for the performance of all original plays written and staged by both Grades 7 and 8. Because each grouped is supposed to have met several times during the term to rehearse and make all other necessary preparations for their final performance, each member of each group is expected to act on stage and when not in a particular scene, co-ordinate or help with costuming, stage set-up and transitions, effects like sound, backstage management et al.

The audience for such collection of stage plays consists of members of two said classes and as many other students and staff who are available and want to watch. I let one or two of my colleague teachers help out as judge/s for the staged plays.

And it is always altogether fun, a live-ly learning experience and all joy for my students and I and everyone else!

 

AishaThinks. Too.: Four Prose, Four Poems, For Your Pocket.

1. Notes About Life, From My Notebook.

IMAG1186

My kpokpolomaja notebook has been super super slow for sometime now – like waiting for like five minutes for something as simple as deleting a few letters in a Word Document.

Now, I’ve to wait a few hours to let some clean-up software, which someone installed for me, do its job. Apart from the memory capacity of my notebook being more than eighty percent used up, there seems to be too many duplicates of far too many documents and folders et al. Part of the sweet woes of playing writer : draft and revision upon final draft that never remains final.

The waiting is neither fun nor funny, but it does look like it’s going to be so much worth it after all. This long wait will be the end of all other waits, which when added up, will be far far more than two hours – not to talk of the accompanying joy… Oh, I can see the signs already. I’ve experienced the signs already: my playlist is churning, pouring goodness like some-T-in…

Life lesson?

Sometimes the drudgery and difficulty that the journey becomes have more to do with the noise from the cluttering, the unnecessary burden of many a weight and luggage…than it has to do with the journey itself.

Sometimes, just sometimes, we are the very problem we are on the look out for. Or we carry the problem.

Sometimes, there is just no enemy. Yes, I said that.

Sometimes, all (wo)man has to do is to

Live up.
Loosen up.
Lighten up.

Live free.
Feel free.
Be free.

Sometimes, somewhere in this thing called life, freedom happens.

#AiShNel

 5th March 2015 

Improvisation

Improvisation

Sitting large and low in plate is

…brown: wheat bread
red: ketchup spread
slyly-between-beige-and-golden
-brown: generous
sprinkle of groundnuts.

Standing steady and ready beside plate is

Yeah-llow! glass-bottled pineapple juice –
laced
with ginger,
unsweetened
without preservative.

28th August 2014

 

 2. An-Other Accra Floods

One day, just when we are all about forgetting what has come to be, whenever the season of rains come, I will tell this story of how water reduced (wo)man and matter and more to nothing. I will tell this story of rivers that we long saw coming and we all pretended to be surprised to wade through, get stuck in and even die or get burnt in.

I had to wade through waters from the smaller footbridge at Kaneshie to as far as the Pamprom junction, all because everywhere was flooded and not crossing the (bigger) footbridge was a much wiser, safer thing to do. I then had to scale one of the rails in the middle of the road and wade my way again to the Kaneshie Police Station, hover around for an hour or two and get home around 1 a.m. (Forget that in about five hours, I had to be at work, as it could not have been the news about my being missing or dead that made it work in those few hours, and not my live, very person and all.) This is but part of my story. All these. And this is just one of many more stories and considering the damages and deaths which are still being counted, mine is even no story at all. I agree.

IMAG0087

Because this story did not end on a tragic note and will never end up as a statistic in some book of records at some public department or ministry or some new committee that will never be opened again, yes the forgetting and regretting can continue. Besides, the damaged and dead go with it all, here in Ghana. It is a ritual.

Right now, let the counting of losses and grand drama of what-a-shock-s continue. Right now, let the circus of re-chanting of what-should-have-been-done-s and re-polishing of old old what-will-be-done-s go on.

Soon the rains will stop, the anthills will rise, and the amnesia will begin.

Soon, I will tell the story…

4th June 2015

 

*Rain Again.

…again,

rickety priest leant on lithe walking stick and prophesied:                                                      “I hear the sound of rain
her footsteps thundering behind
her billowy rolling children.
I smell the scent of rain
in the gritty swirl of sweat and
heat and dust and green!”

Photo0333

Our lips simply, limply, repeated the refrain:
“Oh let the rains come
Let the rains come
Let the rains come quick for us
Lest we perish.”

(For we cannot afford the argument of our minds:)
“Let the rains come spoil our dire rituals
we have long been actively lazing
for far too long in quarter-hearted supplications
for it
Let the rains come beat us so hard that
we throw the hands lifted
in prayer
higher
in despair
of rains and gods and fields and all
and we rush home for dear life.

Oh, that it rains so hard (so) we sleep so tight
and we forget our hunger
and rush to tend the dying tendrils the morrow
with emptier stomachs for motivation

Let it rain so hard for so long so that
we forget to come back to give thanks and…
we remember – only too late- we don’t need rain
for that long
so we go praying the gods for draught-of-sorts

again!”

After I adapted *Rain Again into a short drama, it featured in Accra Theater Workshop‘s An African Walks Into a Psychiatrist’s Office and Other Stories. Rain Again‘s format as shown in this blog-post is a simplified version of the original.

3. Of Art and (Art) Education.

For one thing, TRUE Art is not JUST Art, another Art. And. Teachers don’t JUST teach. Not all Teachers, at least.

Only yesterday, I was enthralled with six pieces of short drama performed by my students. I learn daily, from my students, more than I probably teach them. And one thing I have learnt about this Learning thing is that people learn best by doing, doing whatever is meant to be taught and learnt; that people learn best not just by modeling but more so by doing, doing BY THEMSELVES.

In fact, my little knowledge about Education, and my not-exactly-little experience as a teacher/tutor over the years convince me that CREATING is not only the highest level of learning, but also, the most potent, ultimate evidence of learning (whether you understand Learning as in Psychology or as in Education) having ACTUALLY taken place.

IMAG0340

For Literature in English, and for our studies in drama this term, I settled on Efua Sutherland‘s Edufa and Ola Rotimi‘s ‘The Gods are not to Blame‘ were the set texts. Yesterday’s pieces of STAGED drama-s were a term (group) projects which I had assigned to my students.

Some of the best poems I have read were written by students, my students. And many of them will later tell me they did not know that they could enjoy, much less write poetry until I ‘asked’ them to. I continue to coach the handful who clearly show both talent and commitment to the calling… Soon, I will share one of such poems in my next blog, a continuation of the Fifteen Pieces of Literature… one. In another term (individual) project, these student poems were original and varied, and the (individual) collections were bound into portfolios.

IMAG0653

I can say more, but let me not bore you. I can say more, but remember not to play, not to underestimate, no to break a Teacher’s heart. Never.

If you like, ask [Ayi Kwei Armah’s] Ocran…

* * *

Ocran continued. ”I’ve had six, maybe seven students pass through my hands who really had something, and I hoped they would want to do good work. Artistic work, with clay, ebony, paint, with textures, shaping things to say what is inside themselves. You were one. But the best, I’ve never been able to make them understand. You all go off to do Physics and Medicine and that stupid Law and things like that. I’ve never succeeded in understanding that.”

”You don’t consider writing too creative, then?” (Baako speaks here)

”Words, ” Ocran said with a light shrug. ”Words. No. Too many words are just lies. You can’t fool any
one with things that have texture…”

Ayikwei Armah‘s Fragments

15th July, 2015 

 

Freeing.

after the Bell bends, breaks
school’s petty prisons and stages,
Life flies out to play, to be break

      24th Sept., 2013 and 29th Sept., 2015

 

 

 

5. Two Ghana Cedis, Two Greats…

For some personal reasons, I would rather not talk ‘politics’ -whatever it means and whatever form it comes in- here on Facebook….but tonight, I’ve had to break that ‘taboo’.

Madiba. Nelson. Mandela.
Mandela. Nelson. Madiba…

A day or so before, that primary school song/poem about the grandfather’s clock kept ‘ticking’ in my mind. Its lyrics. Its import. Its moral. What not.

Then this afternoon, for some queer reason, I kept looking at my Two Cedi note. IMAG1162The Nkrumah bit, especially. I thought about his not-so-recent centenary celebrations. The ensuing debates from all quarters about the celebration itself, his ideals, his policies, his ‘good-s’ and ‘bad-s’. Hate the man or love him, I’m yet to see what we, as a country and as a continent, have ACTIVELY learnt from the spirit, the essence, of the man. Nkrumah.

So if grieve this night, it is not just for South Africa and maybe, just maybe, not just for MADIBA per se- why, the man served his generation and many others to come far too well, and he lived long to tell the story, plant the vision and maybe, see the legacy in bloom and again, maybe, catch glimpse(s) of the fruit bud. I’m not too sure about the fruit’s ripening, in ready to be eaten.

Whatever be the case, however, the man, Madiba, has done more than his fair share for Africa and probably, for the whole of humanity. Over the years, through the good, not so good, difficult, hard, bad and ugly times, Madiba’s words and works speak for and of him. His works and words will continue to speak.

But like Nkrumah and many others who have taken leave on this side of eternity, will we heed their THE message? And how well, and for how long are we going to?

So if I grieve this night, I grieve for Africa’s present, and if I’m not being a pessimist, for her future too. Whatever happened to selfless, serving, visionary, proactive, productive and godly leadership? Whatever happened to leaders full of integrity, dignity, impact and inspiration?

MADIBA is ALSO gone NOW. We pray he rests in perfect peace. Meanwhile, where are those to hold the fort, to keep stoking the fires of the ‘aluta continua’ chant across the continent, the world? Where are those who are not just willing, but are committed to deliberately work towards making all the difference that Africa, and the world, desperately need? Where are those who would rather defy every odd to still stand tall, having counted the cost and paid the full full price? Where are they? Where are YOU? Where are we? And where are we heading to?

To borrow Alan Paton‘s words, I ‘Cry the Beloved….(CONTINENT)’.

In Ayi Kwei Armah‘s words, I pause from my cries to ask if ‘The Beautyful Ones are (STILL) not yet BORN‘?

And to end it all, mikɜɜ

Yaawɔ jogbaŋŋ, Madiba.

Damirifa due, Nelson.

Rest in Peace, Mandela.

5th December 2013

IMAG0083

*Revolt.

cocked

cooked up in a cozy crazy corner somewhere
is another radical plot
to topple the people at the top
to jerk the common boat

but they forget
that
whether we all knew
whether we all eschewed
the plot or not,
we’re all into it together
we all sink in together

thanks for our common complacent mediocrity
thanks for their lack of nothing but tact
thanks they turned and became and replaced
the very people they had toppled

So, yes,
Long live the craze
Long live unrest
Long live distress
and
Short live progress
Short live us

Yes,

short live us all!

After being finalist in Poetry Foundation Ghana’s (2012) Political Poetry Competition, *Revolt was published at One Ghana One Voice.Revolt‘s format as shown in this blog-post is a simplified version of the original.  

Love,

AishaWrites.

AishaThinks.

Too.