Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 Reads and Rereads of 2010

I think I'll keep this as a simple list rather than go into details about why they are my top 10; that way I'll be able to come back occasionally to share some part of what made these books my top 10 in 2010. I'm ashamed to say only two of the books were actually published this year, which just shows how much I cling to old books. Maybe early in the new year I'll do a list of strictly-published-in-2010 books.

Carlos Fuentes - The Death of Artemio Cruz
Michael Ondaatje - The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
José Eduardo Agualusa - My Father's Wives
Niall O'Sullivan - Sonnet Hack
Junot Díaz - Drown
Nadine Gordimer - The Conservationist
Charles Dickens - Great Expectations
Christian Campbell - Running the Dusk
Percival Everett - God's Country
Tom Sharpe - Wilt

Book I love the title of, but haven't gotten round to reading:

Et si Dieu me demande, dites-lui que je dors by Bessora (Gallimard)

Book I've been caressing and haven't opened because I fear I may love it too much:
Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay (Maclehose)

Book I've been dipping in and out of constantly:
Monkfish Moon by Romesh Gunesekera (Granta)

The mostbeautifulest hardcover I've received this year:
Voice of America by E. C. Osondu (Granta, 2011)

Books I've recommended the most to people in the past year:

James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room
Mia Couto's Under the Frangipani
Mariama Bâ's So Long a Letter
Gabriel García Márquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Charles Simic's A Wedding in Hell...and that's it for now!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First US Review - Library Journal

Excitement! I got my first US review from the 'we miss very little' Library Journal. I can't tell you how happy I am; I thought the book might just blow by like one of those LA clouds some band sings about... Here you go:

This is a charming, kindhearted, and profound first novel by Parkes, an acclaimed poet from Ghana. With great depth and intelligence, Parkes brings this story about traditional Ghanaian wisdom and spirituality beautifully to life. Structured like a detective story, the novel begins with the disturbing discovery of what may be human remains in the hut of a man in a remote country village. Set against a traditional world of elders and ancient wisdom is the modern world of forensic science, embodied by an ambitious police chief, P.J. Donkor, who is a fan of American forensic television shows like Law & Order and CSI. Donkor summons a young forensic expert, Kayo, to explain what has been found in the village. The novel turns out to be a modern-day fable about living in a world rich with mystery and spiritual energy. By the end, Kayo begins to believe that "the real truth, like love, was beyond the reach of scientific explication." VERDICT Enthusiastically recommended for all readers of literary fiction. — Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT

Here's the link to the page where it appears:

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Free e-Book: This is Not a Love Poem


I am making a digital leap. Between 2002 and 2005, I performed over 500 times in poetry venues around the world. To keep true to my self-imposed stipulation to never perform the same set twice, I wrote at an incredible rate during the period and I have now decided to share these writings for free in two e-books. The first is some of the more overtly political stuff I performed (mainly in the US) as well as the last piece I performed, taken straight from my Book of Rhymes - a few weeks ago - at the RAP Party at the Albany at the invitation of Inua Ellams. The file is in ePub format, but because of the cover image (as shown on the left) it's in a zip file and the download options are below. While it's virtually free, I had to set the book up on Payloadz, so it will cost you the name of a rapper - 50 Cents

- Payloadz ($0.50):
The second e-book will be all love poems and will be out in early January. It will also be free-ish. Enjoy!

Monday, December 06, 2010

The third eye of poetry

It was my girlfriend who suggested to me

that some poets try to build an audience on spirituality

and it's not surprising I missed it 'cos my mind just says goodbye

when a poet launches into a 3rd successive poem about the 3rd eye.

I'm not here to talk about those poets;

I'm here to talk about/to those who patronise those poets.


If you're happy to applaud 3 successive poems

loaded with spiritual clichés then you need help;

you need spiritual healing -

yes you do!


See when I choose to transport words from microphone to speakers

I do in some sense become a teacher

and so I consider it my duty to delve

beneath the easy options

and find truths to share…

If there's nothing there then I won't write…


So on spirituality I conclude like this:

I am my brother's keeper, but I'm not his spiritual healer

and nobody can tell you how to get in touch with your own spirit.

You don't need a 3rd eye to see that!!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Getting Tail of the Blue Bird for Christmas [US]

I have already sent a newsletter recently to let people know that my novel, Tail of the Blue Bird, although officially released in the US on January 13, 2011, will be delivered by most retailers in time for Christmas. However, for people who need more assurance, I have arranged the option to sell copies directly at a discounted price of $10 (instead of $14) and any copies bought through me - by clicking on the button below - will be delivered to US shoppers by Christmas - as long as they are ordered by December 16, 2010. The payment will be to a PayPal account, The Writers' Fund, and the difference between by author discount and the $10 price will be used in the work I do through The Writers' Fund in Ghana to support writers and writing initiatives.

Thank you for your support and readership and I wish you a great Tail-of-the-Blue-Bird-reading Christmas!

P.S. If you wish to encourage other people to buy the book to support me and my work, please use this short link on twitter, myspace, facebook, linkedin, bebo or by the humble, reliable original - e-mail. (Link -

P.P.S. You can read an extract from the book here:

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Interview/Reading on VoxAfrica TV

I was recently interviewed by Henry Bonsu on VoxAfrica in relation to my new book of poems, The Makings of You. It's a long programme and I appear in the last half hour so do forward if you have to. Enjoy!

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