Nii Ayikwei Parkes
(Great Britain, 1974) grew up in Ghana. During his studies in Manchester he joined Commonword, a group of visible-minority writers who discuss one another's work. He writes prose, poetry, articles, and the occasional rap, and regularly performs at literary festivals. The Dutch translation of his first novel, Tail of the Blue Bird (De Blauwe Vogel), was published in 2010, a crime novel about a Ghanaian village where a hunk of flesh is found and the police must figure out what exactly it is. Gorgeous descriptions of Ghanaian nature alternate with sharp passages about Ghanaian police corruption. The book was nominated for the Commonwealth Prize. Recurring themes in Parkes' writing include power, cultural conflict, love, family, and the friction between capitalism and humanism. He performs at poetry festivals around the world and is a regular commentator on BBC radio. He has recorded two CDs of poems: Incredible Blues and Nocture of Phrase. In 2011 he published The Parade, a children's book about the spider Anansi, under the pen name K.P. Kojo.(WU 15 GR)
Archive available for: Nii Ayikwei Parkes
There's nothing better than telling one another stories. Stories from
near and far by students of the International Institute of Social Studies, by foreign writes, and by the public. The theme of this English-language afternoon of storytelling is "At Home," about feeling at home. The ISS students and the writers have prepared their stories. Do you have a story you'd like to tell. Join us!
The ISS students come from Africa, Latin America, and Asia. They live in The Hague for a year and a half, and bring many stories from their home countries. Foreign writers like Ethiopia's Maaza Mengiste, a festival guest, will also participate. Kees Biekhart hosts, and there will be music.
This programme is in English. Do you have a story that fits the bill? Register at the ISS. You have five minutes to tell your story about "At Home."
In the Filmhuis Studio the festival's guest writers present their favourite literary texts and explain why a particular poem, novel excerpt, or song lyric influenced their life and work. Which memory, what feeling does this text call up for them? A continuous interview programme, in which the audience also talks with the writers. Hosted by Arjan Peters and Nuweira Youskine. In English.
Saturday Night Unlimited ends on a festive note with poetic presentations by writers who not only produce wonderful prose but also have a poet's heart beating within. Come listen to David Grossman's reading from Falling Out of Time, and to poems by Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Jennifer Clement, and Stefan Hertmans. With improvisations on cello by Ernst Reijseger. In Dutch and English.
Maaza Mengiste comes from Ethiopia, but emigrated the US as a child and studied in New York. Nii Ayikwei Parkes was born in London to Ghanaian parents. The novels of both authors point to a strong bond with the land of their parents. What does this bond consist of, and how defining is it in their work and identity? Africaphile David von Reybrouck leads the discussion. Toef Jaeger, the biographer of the South Africa-raised Henk van Woerden, starts off the programme with a commentary about reverse emigrationfrom the Netherlands to Africa. In English.
This year Writers Unlimited goes into town, organising informal meetings with the foreign writers. On Saturday 21 January the festival hits Theater Dakota, for a Meet & Greet with the African writers Helon Habila (winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize), Kopano Matlwa (rising star in South African literature) and Nii Ayikwei Parkes (poet, writer and BBC radio commentator). Also a performance by singer and lawyer Adejoke Babington-Ashaye!
Enjoy the work of the writers you have come to see. They read old and new work. Without further ado and without discussion, introduced by Nicole Terborg. Dutch and English.
Hadjar Ben Miloud, Massih Hutak and Nii Ayikwei Parkes enter the stage one by one and for a couple of minutes turn off their sense of nuance, eventualities, 'perhaps this could be seen from another perspective' and other footnotes. On stage it is the belly of literature speaking. Of course they remain men and women of letters, so expect an eloquent, passionate avalanche of words. Warning: not for the tenderhearted. In English and Dutch.