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.
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.