Ghanaian poet Kwadwo Opuko-Agyemang brings reflections on slave trade to GVSU

Courtesy Photo / google images
Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang will be speaking at Grand Valley State

Courtesy Photo / google images Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang will be speaking at Grand Valley State

Rebekah Young

The Grand Valley State University Writers Series will feature a reading session on Monday with Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang, a poet and professor of literature at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana.

Sponsored by the GVSU Writing Department, the Writers Series is a program that brings in local and national writers to read and discuss their works with students and staff.

“We don’t typically have international writers,” said Austin Bunn, an assistant professor in the writing department. “Kwadwo is coming from outside the country, and he’s pretty unique. Kwadwo is a great example of a talented creative writer for students who have any interest in travel abroad or are curious about creative writing in different countries.”

At the session, Opoku-Agyemang will read from his book, “Cape Coast Castle: A Collection of Poems,” which focuses primarily on one of the former slave castles in Ghana.

“His collection of poems is a reflection of the trauma the African world suffered during the trans-Atlantic slave trade,” said Rebecca Hambleton, director of Study Abroad and International Partnerships at GVSU. “He is an outstanding scholar in literature and African studies.”

Hambleton has worked with Opoku-Agyemang for 10 years through GVSU’s student and faculty exchange program with the University of Cape Coast.

“Going to a place like the Cape Coast Castle is a transformative experience,” she said. “You won’t be able to see history in the same way. Kwadwo has the ability to put the past into a different context, like poetry, so you can look at things through a different lens.”

In addition to teaching and writing, Opoku-Agyemang serves as a full-time lecturer and as the director of the Center for International Education. He also taught at GVSU during the 1999-2000 academic year as a government-funded Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence.

“His heart is in teaching,” Hambleton said. “He is extraordinarily insightful and personable. His life experience is tied with his passion for teaching, and he has a way of pulling in the audience. He’s a fun, challenging and interesting instructor. Students here and in Ghana enjoy his classes.”

According to Bunn, the Writers Series usually features four authors from the fiction, poetry and non-fiction genres every month.

The purpose of the program, he said, is to expose students to talented and important writers, specifically in West Michigan. The series also provides a social opportunity for readers and writers to meet and talk with published authors.

The session with Opoku-Agyemang is open to the public with free admission. It will be held in room 2216 of the Kirkhof Center from 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

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