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Here's a sneak preview from our interview with Nii Ayikwei Parkes about his new collection The Geez, our Winter Recommendation which is published today by Peepal Tree Press.

"The Geez was born out of the intersection of two things: photography and loss. The primary loss that triggered my reflections was a decision I made in 2014 to walk away from a relationship that was not healthy for me. In rediscovering who I was without that relationship, I started to play at the many things I had let go of. Having moonlighted as a photographer’s assistant for a brief period between 1999 and 2000, photography was one of them.

I began to take daily selfies on my phone, constantly deleting and taking new ones, all the while mulling the irony of being seen as a young, happy, party-loving man. What was the world seeing? I was approaching middle-age, feeling empty and wanted nothing more than to be at home hugging my children. Then in 2018, I became acquainted with a photo series by Yagazie Emezi called The Consumption of the Black Model, where she had written in the preamble, “Often times... the black body becomes a canvas to project fetishized narratives.”

It was a statement that clarified my musings, leading me to recognise, in the written work I had produced during my selfie era, a germ that was attempting to amplify that which lies beneath what can be gleaned just by looking – a swallowed whimper that wanted to be loud: “how sharp / that smooth black liquid felt inside me, how hard / these nights that blacken me, broken with grief.”

Join the Poetry Book Society today to read the full interview in our Winter Bulletin magazine.

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