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Kwame Dawes. Image from Daily Nebraskan.

Kwame Dawes, Emmy-winning poet and founding editor of Africa Poetry Book Fund, has been named a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. The honourary position has been held in the past by such distinguished names as W.H. Auden, John Ashberry, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Yusef Komunyakaa, Adrienne Rich, and Mark Strand. The poets Marilyn Chi and Marie Howe were also named with him.

The Board of Chancellors of the American Academy of Poets, members of which serve for a period of six years, consults “with the organization on matters of artistic programming, serve as judges for the organization’s largest prizes for poets, and act as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large.” Present members, all of whom made the new selections, include Elizabeth Alexander, Ellen Bass, Forrest Gander, Linda Gregerson, Terrance Hayes, Brenda Hillman, Khaled Mattawa, Marilyn Nelson, Alicia Ostriker, Claudia Rankine, Alberto Ríos, and David St. John. Kwame Dawes, Marilyn Chi and Marie Howe “will be filling the seats vacated by Toi Derricotte, Jane Hirshfield, and Arthur Sze, whose terms have concluded.”Ellen Bass, who nominated Dawes, stated that his:

“brilliant poetry is deeply compassionate, ruthlessly honest, rich in spirit, imagination, and intelligence. His colossal outpouring of poems both stun and console us. Rooted in music, they sing of struggle and transcendence. The breadth of his work as a poet of witness, documentarian, collaborator, performer and more has brought the world to poetry and poetry to the world.”

Born in Ghana and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Kwame Dawes is the author of the poetry collections: Progeny of Air (1994), which received the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection; Prophets (1995); Midland (2001); New and Selected Poems, 1994–2002 (2003); Wheels (2010); Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems (2013); and City of Bones: A Testament (2017), among others.

The first African winner of the Poets & Writers Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award, Dawes is a recipient of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for service to the arts in South Carolina, a Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry, the Musgrave Silver Medal for contribution to the Arts in Jamaica, and a Pushcart Prize. A co-founder and programming director of the Calabash International Literary Festival, he is currently the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska, where he is a Chancellor’s Professor of English.

Last March, Kwame Dawes tweeted guides for poets.

Congratulations to Kwame Dawes.

Find out more HERE.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award for which he was shortlisted ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017). His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He is the curator of the ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016), focuses on cities in Nigeria. The second, WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied History and Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies and Pop Culture, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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  1. Kwame Dawes Is Developing a Digital Portal for African Poetry and Artifacts, from the 1800s to the Present – Afrikáná - 2018/02/27

    […] Kwame Dawes, who became the first African winner of Barnes & Noble’s Writers for Writers Award for his work in supporting other writers, was recently named aChancellor of the Academy of American Poets. […]

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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