The Rainbow’s End: Martin Egblewogbe

Martin Egblewogbe stands at the door of most well-meaning literary activities in Ghana, turning the knob and ushering you in with a smile, if you were a visitor to West Africa’s calmest country, longing for poetry and beer. You will be drawn to him before his poetry, organisational panache in the city of Accra of writers who refused to be left behind by a kaleidoscopic culture and indifferent polity, this writer and teacher of physics at the University of Ghana, Legon. But once you hear him read, a mellifluous rendering of philosophy and love most often, then you will comprehend why he decides to gather the crowd himself-to erect platform for a passion and zeal. Martin is an exciting poet and short-story writer. His collection of short stories, Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God, still cause a stir. He co-founded Ghana Poetry Project and at the helm of perhaps the most accommodating and engaging literary tryst in Ghana, Talkparty, or Ehalakasa, in the local parlance. This is the poet I present to you at this curve of the rainbow.

Brief bio:

Martin Egblewogbe lives in Accra, Ghana. He mainly writes short stories and poetry, and is involved in working with other writers to create a deeper appreciation of literature in the Ghanaian society.

Interview

Why did you choose to become a poet and writer even though you already have a background in Physics

A: I do not think that I made a conscious choice to become a poet and a writer; what happens is that I find that there are stories and poems that I want to write, and then I do. Apart from that, I am rather ordinary and I have an interest in science.

Who are your favourite poets and authors:

A: Beckett comes to mind, Kafka as well. Okigbo for the poetry, Marlowe for the play on Faust; Dostoevsky certainly, Mann of course. The list goes on.

What motivated you to also become a promoter of literature in Ghana:

A: I believe that cultural and societal change are best wrought by artists, writers, poets, whose works then form the vanguard and a bastion for progress.

Does poetry still matter in Ghana and in which way have you impacted on literature through your projects like Ghana Poetry Project and Talkparty :

A: The Ghana Poetry Project is now the Writers Project of Ghana, and we’re rolling out several programs that have helped raise a core of poets and performers in Accra at least; furthermore, our activities have served to promote the appreciation of literature among many members of the general public. WPG currently runs a radio show, book readings, poetry recitals, schools outreach programs, and many more.

What changes have you brought through your verse:

A: I am not aware that my poetry has caused changes anywhere; however, I have enjoyed some of my poems immensely;

Although we deal mostly with poetry on Rainbow’s End, your collection of short stories,Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God, brings me to asking question about the state of book publishing in Ghana.Any peculiar experiences you may like to share with us? What generally is the state of book publishing in Ghana:

A: Things are picking up on the publishing front. There are many books being released now than before, and the quality keeps improving as well. Though the unjustly maligned form of self-publication is quite prominent, one must applaud the writers who are fighting to break the stagnation that has crippled the publication of creative writing in the country. What will finally let this industry surge is the breaking of the barrier of marketing and sales.

Poems

Primary Colours

I’m looking at this pattern.

Fuck your god-damned distractions.

I’m looking at this pattern,

Listening to the intricacies.

I see my imminent salvation.

Let there be War

Let there be war

War

And howitzers belching flame from the hills.

War

And machineguns raining bullets from burning houses.

Let there be war

And bombers and fighters and dogfights in the air

And warships and subs and torpedoes in the deep.

Let there be war

And missiles striking like the fist of god.

War

And speechless children cowering in bomb shelters

And blood on the streets

And smoke in the air

And hospitals overwhelmed.

Let there be war again

Let the young men go out in trucks

Let them return half-mad and staring into the distance.

Let there be war

And widows muttering in the dusk

And mothers weeping in the corners.

Let there be war

The world demands it

Humanity wishes it

The gods desire it.

It is time

yet time

for more war.

Let there be a big, big, war

Let’s blow our chance, and

Go down with the great beasts,

Leaving the rest to cockroaches,

the true inheritors of the world.

So

Let there be war

and tears

and waste.

And bitter lessons writ in blood

and fire

and ashes.

Tired

Now I lay me

down to die

But I am tired

too tired even to die

The whole World

is tired

exhausted

the human experiment

is fucked

Please

I have debts that I cannot pay

God

I have blood on my hands

Help

A trail of tears marks my loving

I tried

I’m tired

Too tired even to die.

IP

I undertook to surf one day,

After an idle quirk, and

Surprise! surprise, my idle lust

Brought down a wicked feast of flesh!

Naked women in obscene pose

(There were some men as well)

Were displayed on the little screen

That glowed in front of me.

At my command, more pictures came

So many, many; So many more!

And there was some text, too, promising

Countless of the same each day!

I’ve heard it said; This type of work

Is much beloved in cyberspace

That modern man, in e-format

Still lives in Sodom, and Gomorrah.

 

Growing to Love

Graveyard.

Mellow evening, fading to night.

Gravestone.

Silhouette.

And I have grown to love you, now

Over these years that you’ve been gone.

Bold Brush Strokes

Paint the world in shades of grey

Let there not be Black or White

Let all be Grey, and let Grey be all

Graduating, graduated shades of Grey.

For were I God, I would not care

And so to man would be but dead

So paint the world in shades of Grey

For there is neither Black nor White.

Enigma

Far away, there, on the horizon, a light flickers
Bright intermittent flashes on the horizon;
An eerie lighting up of night.

What, I wonder, is that light
Flashing again and again on the horizon?

The stillness of the night is unbroken;
There is no strange sound to be heard
It’s just that light, flashing on and on
And I don’t know what at all it is.

and this by candlelight

 

This by fluorescent lamp…

Merciless brilliance highlighting sharp edges

causing fleeing shadows to seek refuge

behind computers           desks              books.

These sanitized environments

filled with the caffeine-powered resilience

of frustrated lawyers and tired doctors

mad scientists and sexy engineers…

And this by moonlight…

Despite the surrounding romantic myth

this glowing orb is only an ancient rock

bound to fall freely for ever

around Earthbound-man who is always

weaving tales of might to cover his entrapment

and wreaking escape by thought alone.

And this by incandescent…

Warm cosy feelings induced by dimmer switches

Amber the colour of warmth and comfort

Pretty thoughts of family and love

Holy books and holy days

Children and comedy

Music and security…

And this by bobo kanea…

Flickering shadows reinforced by smoky light

Virgin breasts trembling mysteriously under cover-cloth

Cooling breeze whispering

the shadow of rain over man with woman

And this by candlelight…

Going mad under the influence

of alcohol and nicotine and caffeine

muttering behind a cluttered desk

navigating sheets through blots of congealed wax:

One must aim at the middle of all things

knowing that the middle cannot be the beginning

except in such forced centralizations of essence

required to give the boom to the bang.

My mindscape falters on the sideshow slideshow

the earthshow and the cocky manshow

the things that are because of the way things are

the shadow of god across the intellect.

I seek the light beyond

I want the realshow

I want more than this pettyshow

of atheists and satanists and evangelists

spoiling the godshow and selling tickets

to the heaven&hellshow

starring the father the children & the uncle:

I want more than this pettyshow

of racists and anarchists and fascists

giggling foolishly at each others’ flatulence:

I want more than this pettyshow

of capitalists and communists and islamists

exchanging lives in their bloody moneyshow.

… don’t these small matters distract

from the blinding promise of light

heaving behind the barriers in the mind…

And more by candlelight…

 

Defenestrating my frenetic searching

for the ultimate sources

and the ultimate sinks

– a fevered poking into universal matters

that has led nowhere –

I seek the middle now

neither the end nor the beginning

I only seek to investigate the middle

the groin of universal existence

… yet fearing to touch

the beginning of the middle

or the end of the middle:

Fearing even to touch

the beginning of the beginning of the middle

or

the end of the end of the middle:

In these echoes of Zeno through the wavering yellow halo

I seek the ultimate middle

Where light lives…

Published by Henry Ajumeze

A Nigerian writer.

3 thoughts on “The Rainbow’s End: Martin Egblewogbe

  1. Exciting interview and interesting poems. Martin’s writings are always deep. they aren’t easy to penetrate and he uses a lot of his scientific brain to question man’s position in this world. Are we the ultimate victors? Why can’t we learn from our actions? For instance, why must we war when we know that war isn’t good? etc.

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