- Category: PA 2012
Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a Ghanaian poet, editor, socio-cultural commentator and author. With an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck (University of London), he serves on the boards of the Poetry Book Society, the Arvon Foundation and the Caine Prize.
Author of the acclaimed hybrid literary novel, Tail of the Blue Bird (Random House), which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and translated into Dutch and German, Ayikwei’s poetry and short story writing has recurring themes of power, cultural conflicts, love, family and the friction between capitalism and humanism.
A 2007 recipient of Ghana's national ACRAG award for poetry and literary advocacy, Ayikwei 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. He has also been recipient of numerous awards, grants and residencies, including a 2009 Booktrust residency, and a 2011 grant from the James Irvine Foundation for a series of talks in California.
As a socio-cultural commentator and advocate for African writing, Ayikwei has sat on discussion panels for BBC Radio with literary heavyweights such as Booker winners, Margaret Atwood and A.S. Byatt, and also runs the African Writers’ Evening series at the Southbank Centre, London. He also consults for organisations on cultural policy and programming and was a member of the panel of judges for the 2012 Commonwealth Prize.
Together with his latest collection of poetry, The Makings of You, Ayikwei is currently completing a book of short stories titled The City Will Love You for Random House, as well as two projects for stage.
He lives in Accra and London.