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Kwame Dawes. Image from The Daily Nebraskan.

Kwame Dawes—Emmy-winning poet, founding editor of African Poetry Book Fund (APBF), and editor of Prairie Schooner—is developing a digital portal for African poetry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he is also a Chancellor’s Professor of English, reports The Daily Nebraskan. “The African Digital Portal,” to be launched in 2019, “will feature artifacts, newspapers and manuscripts related to African poetry, dating from the 19th century to the modern era.”

Dawes’ project will be funded with a $150,000 grant from Ford Foundation, a group he says “helps to promote initiatives taken by the African Poetry Book Fund to support African arts” and “has been supportive in recognizing the importance of [digitizing] African Poetry.”

“The portal will provide a single place where one can learn a great deal about African poetry,” Dawes stated. “The APBF is committed to creating an open-access platform which will allow scholars, poets and lovers of poetry to freely access the data that will be available on the portal.”

The project, which has just begun, “includes listing poetry materials from African authors around the globe and organizing materials on specific regions of Africa,” states Prairie Schooner and APBF Managing Editor Ashley Strosnider. “People will be able to click on African regional maps where they will be linked to poetry based on a specific region.”

While Strosnider acknowledges that “some African poetry literature and publications may not be accessible because of lack of language translation and location tracking,” she hopes that “the online database will provide centralized access to people who are interested in learning more about African poetry.”

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 a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.


Otosirieze Nnaemekaram 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 facilitated by Giles Foden. 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 and is working on a 600-page novel. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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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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