The Geez
LONGLISTED FOR THE RATHBONES FOLIO AWARD 2020 — A stunning new collection from Nii Ayikwei Parkes, featuring poems which embrace play, love and the ephemeral such as water bodies, blood/heritage, history and gossip; and a healthy dose of music and popular culture.
Nii Ayikwei Parkes
ISBN number
Country setting
United Kingdom
Publication date
15 Oct 2020

Concerned with the phase of life sometimes referred to as the midlife crisis, The Geez navigates the blurred lines between age and youth; the real and the imagined; what is seen and what is -- what catches the gaze and what lies beneath. Conceived in four sections, the collection moves from play, to love, to gossip and - finally - to explorations of the intersections of self and contemporary culture, including a segment inspired by blues legends, riffing on the myth of the crossroads, as well as an eleven-part love letter to the African diaspora -- specifically African-Americans, whose sacrifices have contributed to the still-suppressed freedoms of Black folk globally. A number of the poems in The Geez are written in a form called the Gimbal, which was developed by Nii -- initially to work through his enduring grief at the loss of his father. It is now a form that has evolved to mine emotion within a guiding format that, for him, evokes the workings of a gyroscope -- spinning but stable -- a state that echoes the liminality that anchors this collection.

The Geez is a core-shifting collection. Each section is an electric shock to the senses. Nii is writer of precision, of ritualistic delicacy, his words are a symphony and every note in this masterpiece is a masterpiece in itself. How lucky is the reader to be taken on a journey through the self, where they are shown the real in the imagined and the imagined in the real. Each poem is a shovelling through the soil of one’s perception, the richness, the grit, the depth. This brilliant collection is the sum of breathing, of loving, loathing, thinking, believing, grieving, thirsting, reaching and reaching.” Caleb Femi

“The questing and questioning poems of Nii Ayikwei Parkes’ The Geez range across time and continents, synthesising the broad and resistant histories of the global black community, with intimate questions about love, family, parenthood and grief. Formally inventive, the collection sings with its own music and with a consciousness of the transformative power of black music in the diaspora. It is rare to find a book so fiercely political and emotionally intimate. A compelling and captivating collection.” Hannah Lowe

“It's gorgeous and wise at the same time. The lumped, pressing aches of separation are addressed with immaculate subtlety that braids wit and grievance so finely, and yet evocatively with perfect poise. I love how the joy of parenthood, the love of music, the rich memories of loving parents and the eroticism come together with integrity and seamlessness--by that I mean I trust the voice, its thinking heart and its feeling mind. A beautiful, beautiful book.” Khaled Mattawa


Nii Ayikwei Parkes

Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a Ghanaian-British writer and editor who has won acclaim as a children's author, poet, broadcaster and novelist. Winner of multiple international awards including the ACRAG award, his novel Tail of the Blue Bird won France's two major prizes for translated fiction – Prix Baudelaire and Prix Laure Bataillon – in 2014. Nii Ayikwei is the founder of flipped eye publishing, a leading small press, serves on the boards of World Literature Today and the AKO Caine Prize, and was chair of judges for the 2020 Commonwealth Prize. Currently Producer of Literature and Talks at Brighton Festival, he is the author of two collections of poetry The Makings of You (2010) and The Geez (2020), both published by Peepal Tree Press.
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