MEET NII AYIKWEI PARKES
Posted on October 15 2020
Concerned with the phase of life sometimes referred to as the midlife crisis, The Geez navigates the blurred lines between age and youth; the real and the imagined; what is seen and what is -- what catches the gaze and what lies beneath. Conceived in four sections, the collection moves from play, to love, to gossip and - finally - to explorations of the intersections of self and contemporary culture, including a segment inspired by blues legends, riffing on the myth of the crossroads, as well as an eleven-part love letter to the African diaspora -- specifically African-Americans, whose sacrifices have contributed to the still-suppressed freedoms of Black folk globally. A number of the poems in The Geez are written in a form called the Gimbal, which was developed by Nii -- initially to work through his enduring grief at the loss of his father. It is now a form that has evolved to mine emotion within a guiding format that, for him, evokes the workings of a gyroscope -- spinning but stable -- a state that echoes the liminality that anchors this collection.
Nii Ayikwei Parkes, is a Ghanaian-British producer and writer. A 2007 recipient of Ghana’s ACRAG award for poetry, he is Senior Editor at flipped eye publishing and has won acclaim as a children’s author, poet, broadcaster and novelist – most notably the Prix Laure Bataillon for the French translation of his novel Tail of the Blue Bird, (Cape, 2009). Twice featured on London’s Poems on the Underground, Nii Ayikwei’s ballast series from his début poetry collection The Makings of You (Peepal Tree Press, 2010) was described by Ali Smith as “an astonishing, powerful remix of history and language and the possibilities of both”.
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