One of our favourite writers here at JamesMurua.com is Nii Ayikei Parkes. The Ghanaian writer who has done a lot to push the literacy agenda (he was on my Writivism Google Hangout recently) is the winner of this years Sylt Foundation African Writer´s Residency Award.
The award provides a two month stay in a subsidised apartment on the island of Sylt off the coast of Hamburg in Germany to writers of contemporary African literature, who engage with current themes and concerns related to Africa and the African diaspora. The award is open to published writers of poetry, prose, plays and novels. The first winner of the award was last year Chika Unigwe another loved writer on this blog.
The winner was selected in a two-tier process by the four independent judges, this year judges were Imraan Coovadia (writer and literary scholar, Cape Town), Pamela Nichols (literary scholar, Johannesburg), Veronique Tadjo (poet, writer and literary scholar, Johannesburg) and Indra Wussow (literary scholar and translator, Johannesburg/Sylt) out of an impressive list of strong contenders. The jury commented: “Nii Parkes is such an original writer who easily moves about different literary genres that he will surely offer us something new and exciting with this new project he will be working on in his residency.”
It couldn’t have happened to a better fellow. His prose writing like in the ‘Tail of the Blue Bird‘ isn’t bad either seeing as it was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize and has been translated into Italian, French, Chinese, Dutch, German and Arabic. He also has books of poetry like the Michael Marks Award-shortlisted pamphlet, ballast: a remix (2009) and The Makings of You (Peepal Tree Press).
He was of course quite happy to win the award. At least this official comment from the man mentions that he is happy —> “The fact that the award of the Sylt Residency considers work in progress as one of its criteria makes this win doubly sweet – it validates the work I am doing and also gives me valuable immersion time to work towards its completion. I’m dreading the cold on Sylt island, but I’m very happy.”