What happens when you put a hundred thousand poets together? Paul Kusi has a one-word answer – Change. Meet Paul, the Poet, a man who paints intricate, beautiful and soul-uplifting pictures with words.
He is a product of the University of Ghana, Legon and holds a B.A. Degree in Political Science with foundations built in Prempeh College and the Good Shepherd R/C JSS- Kumasi. Paul is a novelist, has 18 novels to his credit and keeps writing. As a Poet, he is an ambassador and Event Organizer for 100Thousand Poets for Change, an International Poetry Organization based in the USA, which he works earnestly for its entrenchment in Ghana. Over the years, he has also used his gift of motivation to gear both the youth and the aged towards a purpose-driven life.
How did you get into poetry? Why this form of art?
The gift of poetry has been part of me since God-know-when but I challenged myself to ring that inner bell in the year 2013. It was the youth and singles week at our church (ICGC-Prayer Temple) when I asked for a slot to perform a poetic piece I had written (The woman of my life). Granted the platform, I brought all the hidden talent to bear and the response was great. I took it from there and God has seen me far.
Well, I chose poetry because it’s an art of oratory. Every poet is a good orator. I possess that ability and poetry offers one the chance to speak on diverse issues ranging from religion to politics. Poetry offers the poet a chance to paint pictures to his audience with his words. Because poems are artistically designed, a good poet can capture all the essentials of a topic like Sanitation within 5 minutes and still have it driven deep into the understanding of his listeners.
Which poetry form do you normally do?
Poetry is diverse but my line of poetry covers four main themes. The first has to do with my service to God, devotion to the Kingdom business. I talk about God or Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.
The second is Love Poems. The Bible says that God is love. Love is something that brings the beauty of the human spirit to bear. With this, I talk about the love a man has for a woman and vice versa, the bond of love that exists between mother and child, among neighbours, etc.
The third is Motivation Poetry. Many are waxed with the vicissitudes of life and need exhortation. I, therefore, design some of my poems to rekindle the spirit of my audience to give them hope for the future.
The last or fourth has to do with what I call specifics. This one has to do with poems designed to meet specific programs and events – weddings, birthdays, book launches, corporate meetings, outdooring of projects and products, etc.
What inspires your poems?
The beauty of nature and daily happenings – street life, culture and traditions. You know, life itself.
You recently published an anthology. Please tell us about the rich poetry that is captured within the book and how you put them together.
The book titled “100Thousand Poems for Change” is a collection of many of my poems written and performed on different platforms for specific events over the last 3 years. Its themes are Love, God, and Motivation. It also includes special dedications to individuals and corporate bodies. Every piece in this book is unique. The book itself is rich and diverse in style and is also meant for stage ministrations.
Tell us about some of the poetry events you have organized.
I have been invited to minister at several art programs, but the dream to put together a wholesome poetry show was realized at my just ended 100Thousand Poets and Musical Concert which was dubbed “Songs of Solomon”. It was a mix of poets and musicians on one stage. Many are used to poetic recitations or open mic, but art has no boundaries. Therefore, we blended music with Poetry and its impact was massive. We also styled it with drama and dished it with a cultural display. We also offered the platform for some artists to exhibit their paintings.
With your experience so far with poetry ministrations, are poems well received in Ghana?
That’s not something we can boast of as a country. Some even think poetry is for little school children so they make mockery when they hear a grown man or woman is reciting poems. But when they experience it, then they fall in love with it and even want more. However, I believe we will get there. I see many of the youth developing interest in poetry or spoken word. That gives me hope that the future for the poetry industry is bright.
What can be done to improve the literary landscape here in Ghana?
Poets should come together to form strong unions to advance their common cause. Special award schemes should be designed to honor poets, just as there are all sorts of award schemes for movies and music. This will give the urge to many youth who even want to take poetry as a career. Also special archives should be created to save works of poets for future references.
What does poetry mean to you?
As I continue to say, Poetry is life and I feel it is in my DNA. (He laughed.)
Do you read from other poets? Who are your favorites and what are your favorite poems?
My all-time favourite poet is one of our very own, the late Kofi Awoonor. His poems have style and they speak of the past, present and the future. I love the poem ‘Rediscovery’. I also loved the poem ‘The earth, my brother.’ This poetic piece was like a true prophecy of the fate that would befall him.
What one piece of advice will you pass on to poets?
Poetry is an art and art is pinged on creativity. Poets are a breed of people who think outside the box. They shouldn’t limit themselves to one style of writing and presentation. If it becomes one way (chew and pour kind of thing) the audience becomes bored with your style soon because they can predict you. Create your brand such that your audience can never predict you.
Are there any persons or groups that have contributed to your success who you would like to acknowledge?
Special thanks to Michael Rothenberg (Co-founder of 100Thousand Poets for Change), Prophet Akwasi Twumasi Ankrah (Assistant Pastor, Royal House Chapel- Kumasi), Bro Eric Boateng (ICGC) Prayer Temple, Lady Pastor Stella Azuma (DOVSSU), Daniel Owusu-Bempah, Mr. Alfred Basum (A Visionary who sees the good in what we do, even when people doubt it), Emma’s Collections, my costumers. Ella Makeover who does all the beauty tricks for me and my crew. I am also grateful to my crew (Bro. Addai Frimpong (Sound) Kofi Gyekye (Director) Bro Simon and the rest of the band guys. To all my fans, those I know in person and those even on social media, I say thank you and God bless you.
Thanks Paul for taking a dip with us into your love story with words and poetry. We wish you the best in all your endeavours!
Interview by: Kwasi ’Sei, threesixtyGh Writer