Literary Zone

Poetry: The Cathedral

17 August 2013 at 18:54 | 6344 views

The Cathedral

By Kofi Awoonor, Ghana.

On this dirty patch
a tree once stood
shedding incense on the infant corn:
its boughs stretched across a heaven
brightened by the last fires of a tribe.
They sent surveyors and builders
who cut that tree
planting in its place
A huge senseless cathedral of doom.

About Kofi Awoonor
Kofi Awoonor (born 13 March 1935 in Wheta) is a Ghanaian poet and author whose work combines the poetic traditions of his native Ewe people and contemporary and religious symbolism to depict Africa during decolonization. He started writing under the name George Awoonor-Williams.

Awoonor was born in Ghana when it was still called the Gold Coast. He went to university there and went on to teach African literature at the University of Ghana. While at the University of Ghana he wrote his first poetry book, Rediscovery. Like the rest of his work, Rediscovery is based on African oral poetry. In Ghana he managed the Ghana Film Corporation and founded the Ghana Play House. He then studied literature at the University of London, and while in England he wrote several radio plays for the BBC. He spent the early 1970s in the United States, studying and teaching at universities.

While in the USA he wrote This Earth, My Brother, and My Blood. Awoonor returned to Ghana in 1975 as head of the English department at the University of Cape Coast. Within months he was arrested for helping a soldier accused of trying to overthrow the military government and was imprisoned without trial. After ten months he was found guilty and released. The house by the Sea is about his time in jail. After imprisonment Awoonor became politically active and has written mostly nonfiction. From 1990 to 1994 Awoonor was Ghana’s Ambassador to the United Nations where he headed the committee against apartheid.

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