Kwame Dawes, Professor of English, winner of the 2019 NU ORCA award. March 15, 2019. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communication.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is celebrating the work and unyielding life-service of Professor Kwame Dawes.

An Emmy-award winning poet, Dawes is the founding editor of African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) which publishes new titles annually from emerging and established African poets. A Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Dawes is a distinguished member of the institution.

In addition to serving as the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, a prestigious literary journal published by the university, he led the university’s successful national search for its first vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and delivered the 2019 undergraduate commencement address. His most recent publication is titled ‘Nebraska’ and is published by the University of Nebraska Press.

Last year, Dawes won the $165,000  Windham-Campbell Prize for his decades-spanning body of work.

The celebration, titled “Mapmaking: The Poetic Arts of Kwame Dawes” will run from March 16-20 and will feature three primary events — a collaboration of poetry and music that pays homage to women who lived in the South during the Jim Crow era; a conversation and reading between Dawes and Northwestern University’s acclaimed novelist and poet Chris Abani; and a celebration of Dawes’ collaborations and published works — coupled with a weeklong art exhibition.

Here are the line up of events:

  • “Wisteria: Twilight Songs from the Swamp Country” 7 p.m., March 18, Sheldon Museum of Art’s Ethel S. Abbott Auditorium, a collaborative narrative and musical developed by Dawes and Kevin Simmonds, an award-winning composer. The performance pays homage to the voices of women who lived during the era of Jim Crow America.
  • “Punta del Burro” art exhibition, March 16-20, Van Brunt Visitors Center — The exhibition features artworks inspired by Dawes’ book “Punta del Burro.” The works were created by Jon Gregg.
  • “The Intersection of Memory, Home and Artistic Invention: Conversation and Readings with Chris Abani, 7 p.m., March 19, Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, Joseph H. Cooper Theater — Dawes and Abani will take the stage for a conversation that celebrates the premiere of the publication of “Nebraska.” A reception will follow.
  • “Exhibition and Celebration of the Collaborations and Works of Kwame Dawes,” 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., March 20, Van Brunt Visitors Center — A culmination of the weeklong art exhibition inspired by Dawes’ “Punta del Burro.” The event will feature the collaborative works of Dawes, including his work as editor of Prairie Schooner; directorship of the African Poetry Book Fund and collaboration with the University of Nebraska Press; and his many projects as an editor and literary activist. Remarks will be at noon.


Go here for more information.