Ghanaian author Kwame Dawes was announced as the new Poet Laureate of Jamaica from 2024-2027.

Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia “Babsy” Grange, bestowed the honor after a public nomination process, followed by a seven-member committee vote administered by the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ).

As the Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Dawes is given a three-year tenure and is responsible for “developing and executing a programme of activities which support the reading, writing and promotion of Jamaican poetry”, according to the Jamaica Observer. Previous Poet Laureates include Professors Mervyn Morris, Lorna Goodison, and Olive Senior.

Grange remarked that she is pleased with the selection of Professor Dawes:

He is deserving of this honour given his years of foundational work and contributions made to the literary landscape of Jamaica. Dawes is a naturalised citizen of Jamaica, having grown up here, and in 2004 was awarded the Musgrave Silver Medal for Literature. In 2022, he was awarded National Honours, the Order of Distinction Commander class.

Kwame Dawes was born in Ghana and is a widely acclaimed poet, editor, critic, and musician. Dawes is a George W. Holmes University Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner. He teaches in the Pacific MFA Program and is the Series Editor of the African Poetry Book Series, Founder and Director of the African Poetry Book Fund, and Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Calabash International Literary Festival.

He is a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Dawes is the winner of the prestigious Windham/Campbell Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

He is the author of 35 books of poetry with numerous other books of fiction as well as essays. His most recent collection, Sturge Town, was published in the UK by Peepal Tree Press, and will be released by W.W. Norton Books in the US in August 2024.

Congrats to Dawes on this well-deserved achievement!