Nii Ayikwei Parkes: editor, socio-cultural commentator poet and author. Ayikwei is Ghanaian born and spends his time in Ghana and the United Kingdom. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck (University of London) and serves on the boards of the Poetry Book Society, the Arvon Foundation and the Caine Prize. He is the author Tail of the Blue Bird (Random House), which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and translated into Dutch and German. He also writes for children under the name K.P. Kojo
- A contributing editor to The Liberal, and has had work and opinions published in many newspapers, magazines and journals, including Wasafiri, Poetry News, The New Writer, The Guardian, Poetry Review, Storyteller Magazine, Mechanics Institute Review and Sable.
- 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 and delivered lectures and talks on poetry and creative writing at universities internationally.
- His latest books of poetry are the Michael Marks Award-shortlisted pamphlet, Ballast: a remix (2009), described in the Guardian as, “An astonishing, powerful remix of history and language” and The Makings of You (Peepal Tree Press).
- Nii Ayikwei 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.
- Nii Ayikwei was one of a select few writers asked to design a shoe for Converse as part of Project RED (link to small image of his design: http://ymlp.com/ztteNi ). He is currently completing a book of short stories The City Will Love You for Random House as well as two projects for stage.
Nii Ayikwei’s residencies, grants and awards include a 2003 Arts Council England award, a 2003 Victoria & Albert Museum residency, a 2005 BBC Radio 3 residency, a 2009 Booktrust residency, and a 2011 grant from the James Irvine Foundation for a series of talks in California.
Tail of the Blue Bird
Sonokrom, a village in the Ghanaian hinterland, has not changed for hundreds of years. Here, the men and women speak the language of the forest, drink aphrodisiacs with their palm wine and walk alongside the spirits of their ancestors. The discovery of sinister remains – possibly human, definitely ‘evil’ – and the disappearance of a local man brings the intrusion of the city in the form of Kayo, a young forensic pathologist convinced that scientific logic can shatter even the most inexplicable of mysteries.
As old and new worlds clash and clasp, and Kayo and his sidekick, Constable Garba, delve deeper into the case, they discover a truth that leaves scientific explanations far behind.
“A delightful book that combines the basic tug of the whodunit with the more elegant pleasures of the literary novel” (Independent )
“A deeply complex novel; each character, every line entices the reader into feeling the beating heart of urban and rural Ghanaian lives… Parkes’ steady, assured writing weaves a cosmological mystery that keeps you guessing to the very last page” (Courttia Newland )