The Ghanaian-born poet Kwaku Darko-Mensah Jr.’s new collection Flood Season is forthcoming from flipped eye, a U.K. press.
Flood Season, its publisher says, “explores diasporic lives, the tensions between who we are and the clichés that surround our nation states, and hybridity.” The poems “carry their weight easily and fizz with the joy of a burst man.” Darko-Mensah Jr.’s “artistic production is,” the press says, “comparable to folk poets like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.”
Darko-Mensah Jr. told Open Country Mag that “Flood Season started with an impulse.” He wanted “to examine tensions surrounding national and diasporic identity and its convergences with my personal history.”
Also a Hip Hop/Soul singer-songwriter, Darko-Mensah Jr. performed and released music for over a decade under the name Kae Sun. His father’s collection of soul records and the local church in Ghana influence his music. After moving to Canada, he experimented, writing across genres, mixing hip-hop with soul & funk, indie pop with world music, and folk melodies with African pidgin lyrics.
“I chose the title to reference the perennial floods endemic to Ghana,” he said. “I think of it as a metaphor for stalled efforts at establishing a cohesive national project. I like the idea of complicating nationalist narratives so there’s some irony intended here. The genesis of this work had to do with conversations I had with my parents about their experience resettling in Ghana after living in Germany for a decade. I wanted to uncover their feelings around having their return coincide with the dawn of the PNDC era, a tumultuous period in Ghanaian history.”
He was also invested in tracing his paternal grandfather’s “archive.” It “sent me down a bit of a wormhole,” he said. “I’ve been trying to understand his times and work as a government official in various roles, beginning pre-independence till about the mid-70s. I’m fascinated by his influence on our family’s trajectory and the stories told about him.”
Accra, the Ghanaian capital, is central to Flood Season. “I was interested in working with my memories and a sense of belonging through my recollections of Accra,” he explained. “This memory work essentially drives a lot of the imagery in the collection.”