Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a Ghanaian novelist, editor, sociocultural commentator, and poet. A 2007 recipient of Ghana’s national ACRAG award for poetry and literary advocacy, he has held visiting positions at the University of Southampton and California State University. Parkes’s books include ballast: a remix (shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award), the recent The Makings of You (Peepal Tree) and his debut novel, Tail of the Blue Bird (forthcoming in the United States in 2011), which was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize (see WLT, Jan. 2010, 68).
As a performer, Parkes is known for his versatility on stage and his love for jazzy collaborations. He has performed on major stages like the Royal Festival Hall in London, Java in Paris, and Paradiso in Amsterdam as well as at festivals such as the 2005 London Jazz Festival. In 2002 he completed a sellout six-week tour of the United States and recorded the spoken-word CD Incredible Blues, which includes collaborations with Randolph Matthews and Kumar Raghunathan.
March 2011 WLT
Clouds gather under a blue moon,
like trouble brewing as strange fruit
continues to swing – keeping time –
while Columbia turntables refuse to spin
the song; is vinyl too black, too flash to be
sleeved in white prisons? The answer lies
like white gardenia petals on a bruise
too subtle to separate from wind; like
a trumpet caught in the ill wind of a jet’s
Whether seeking upward mobility, pursuing adventure, or escaping war, the characters in these migration narratives unsettle myths and demonstrate how geographic shifts impact everything from identity to daily life.
My Father’s Wives (2008)
José Eduardo Agualusatr. Daniel Hahn
A brilliant tapestry of a tale, weaving fictions, hopes, facts, and dreams t...