Images of Ted Kooser (L) and Kwame Dawes (R) via news.unl.edu

Kwame Dawes will be running the renowned “American Life in Poetry” newspaper column from January 2021 onward.

The “American Life in Poetry” column is a free weekly column that was started by Ted Kooser, the thirteenth Poet Laureate of the United States, in 2005. The column features a poem by a contemporary American poet along with a brief introduction to the poem.

According to the column’s website, Kooser had begun the column “to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture.” Newspapers may reprint columns as long as they are registered with the American Life in Poetry project and reproduce the column and copyright information of the poem without alteration. The column is now enjoyed by almost 5 million readers across the world.

Kooser announced his retirement from the column and named Dawes as his successor in September 2020. In a University of Nebraska-Lincoln press statement, Kooser said that “Kwame Dawes is an accomplished poet and enthusiastic and energetic promoter of poetry with a lot of editorial experience.”

Dawes is Chancellor’s Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is also director of the African Poetry Book Fund and editor of University of Nebraska Press’s African Poetry Book Series. He was elected a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets, named a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018, and won the prestigious Windham Campbell Award for Poetry in 2019.

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Dawes said that it was “an honor and an opportunity to continue [Kooser’s] work,” and that “[his] goal is to assure people that at the core of what we will do going forward is the love of poetry and the sincere belief that poetry, like music, is an artform that can bring meaning and value to anyone willing to test the water.”

Congratulations, Kwame Dawes, on this appointment! We look forward to your forthcoming columns.