The African Writer´s Residency Award (AWRA) provides a two month stay in a subsidized apartment 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 Foundation is located on the island of Sylt off the coast of Hamburg in Germany. Its residency programme has been running for several years and offers opportunities to South African as well as international visual artists, writers, composers and film makers. The programme is managed under the directorship of literary scholar and curator Indra Wussow.
The winner was selected in a two-tier process by the four independent judges Imraan Coovadia (writer and literary scholar, Cape Town), Pamela Nichols (literary scholar, University of the Witwatersrand, 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 his new project he will be working on in his residency".
Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a writer, editor, socio-cultural commentator and performance poet. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck (University of London) and is a 2007 recipient of Ghana's national ACRAG award for poetry and literary advocacy. Nii's début novel 'Tail of the Blue Bird' was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize and his work has been translated into Italian, French, Chinese, Dutch, German and Arabic. His latest books of poetry are the Michael Marks Award-shortlisted pamphlet, ballast: a remix (2009) and The Makings of You (Peepal Tree Press).
Winning this award Nii Parkes commented: "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."
Nii Parkes will be in Germany from 15th May to 15th June 2015 and also join the festival poetry on the road in Bremen. In October 2015 he will stay on Sylt island.