Nii Ayikwei Parkes kicked off day six of Season 2 of Afrolit Sans Frontières from London, UK on Saturday, April 25, 2020. He was hosted by Asiedu Benneh.
Afrolit Sans Frontières, a new initiative by and for writers of African origin, was started in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdown. Like the first edition, Season 2 features some of the leading names in African letters today with curation by Maaza Mengiste and festival founder Zukiswa Wanner. This season sees 16 writers from 14 countries streaming either on Instagram or Facebook from 13 cities in English, French, and Portuguese over eight days under the festival theme “What I Wish You’d Ask Me.”
Since the festival started, bibliophiles have interacted with Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor from Nairobi, Kenya, Lola Shoneyin from Lagos, Nigeria, Elma Shaw from Kigali, Rwanda, Edwige Renee Dro from Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, Sulaiman Addonia from Brussels, Belgium, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi from Manchester, UK, Napo Masheane from Johannesburg, South Africa, and Mona Eltahawy in Montreal, Canada. There have also been sessions with festival curators Maaza Mengiste alongside Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda, Remy Ngamije, Bisi Adjapon, and Chike Frankie Edozien and Zukiswa Wanner alongside Chike Frankie Edozien, Kalaf Epalanga, and Leye Adenle.
The first session for Saturday featured writer, editor, and socio-cultural commentator Nii Ayikwei Parkes. He is the author of the hybrid novel, Tail of the Blue Bird (2009) and the poetry collection The Makings of You (2010). He also writes for children under the name K. P. Kojo with Tales from Africa (2017) as one of his offerings. Following roles at the University of Southampton, California State University and the University of Aberystwyth, he was founding director of the Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing in Accra, before taking his current role as Producer of Literature and Talks at Brighton Festival.
The Ghanaian started the session by reading new unpublished poems and a section of his forthcoming poem Asuka before event host Benneh joined alongside cameos from his children. For the next half hour or so, we would hear about how he writes fiction in longhand first, how editing helps to make him a better writer, and much more.
You can watch video of Nii Ayikwei Parkes in the session below.